Sunday, July 15, 2012

2012 - 49

Not in Any Foreseeable Lifetime

The hunt for my summer project led me to do some basic research for the SF idea I had. I was both astounded and gutted.

When astronomers discovered the exoplanet Gliese 581 in another part of our galaxy, its position in the sweet area of its system is a similar position to where Earth is in ours. This increased the chances of it possibly having life on it a little and as technology advances, we might find more out about it in the coming years. If we finally screw up our planet, we can go there and live.

If only.

At current technology, the fastest a spaceship can go is 75,000mph and taking out all the considerations of travelling into unknown space, gravitational and orbital pulls, debris and whatever else might be out there between the void bits, it would take us 180,000 years. However, if we can develop some form of new technology that allows us to travel at 92% of light speed, it would only take 22½ years, but because of Einstein's theory of relativity, it would only seem like just over 6 years to the people on the ship.

So, that's sorted. Except if you screwed up the planet and needed to get away, you' need to build ships and propulsion systems and other ships to house food and hydroponics warehouses and everything you'd need to keep a small city of people in a flotilla a mega-fast ships to survive 22½ years, once you've done all your scouting and surveying and sent ahead raw materials for basic survival. All of this would probably consume all of Earth's available resources to be able to send 100,000 people into the unknown.

Then, you have that thorny issue of how to propel your ships forward. Apparently space travel is all about velocity and achieving maximum speed as quickly as possible or you risk adding literally hundreds of years on your journey because of the immense distances needed to travel. Using current Newtonian laws of physics, which haven't yet been disproved, you would require one fifth of the total energy of the output of the sun to achieve it (and I'm not sure if that is just for one ship or how big).

Now, 20 years ago scientists said that to be able to teleport someone, like in Star Trek, it would require a computer with a hard drive so big it would stretch all the way round the moon and back and a processor bigger than said moon. Today, the hard drive would probably be the size of a suitcase and the processor would be size of a microwave. The thing is technology has advanced almost ridiculously over the last 200 years; but space travel isn't much more advanced than it was at the end of the Apollo missions. Plus, the planet is woefully poor and incapable of even mounting a mission to Mars; our technological advancements aside, we're still adrift on this island and even if technology continues to advance at current rates, it would still be at least 100,000 years before we might be at a level where we can do more than theorise.

So, don't think you'll be travelling to another world in your lifetime; in fact, when you consider that humans, in the current form, have been around about 180,000 years and would need to be around for at least more than half of that number again before it can even contemplate colonising
anywhere but the moon, Mars and possibly maybe one or two of the moons of Jupiter.

So, I suppose I could spend a bit more time on one of the other ideas...

Expect Oration

Roger said 10 days ago now, when I had started taking the industrial strength antibiotics, I should expect to see all kinds of shit emerging from my lungs - not a particularly nice thought, but it didn't happen and subsequently I was back at the quack's for even stronger drugs.

Now, antibiotics don't aid with expectoration, but they aid in other areas which probably allows the expelling of crap much easier. So I wasn't expecting any great or immediate changes in the way I'm breathing; the new steroid based inhaler the doc gave me is probably the thing that would 'shift' stuff and that will take at least a week to get into my system and start working.

The drugs do work.

I've started to feel proper human again; not so much out of breath and therefore not as shitty feeling. I no longer feel like I'm carrying a small burning ember of coal around in my lower chest and I actually did things yesterday and this morning that a week ago I would have baulked at. In fact, today I would feel like a complete fraud who should be back at work, especially during the last week of term. But I don't and I don't because for best part of the last 3 hours I've been astounding myself by the amount of shit I've been coughing up.

I said to the wife after Roger made his comment that if it did happen I would paint him a really disgusting picture; tell him that I'm coughing up stuff that looks like grey leather and that it was so thick the ducks thought they were slugs. The truth is it's just how you'd expect it to be; there's just so much of it! I'd even go as far as saying my chest is sore now because it's not used to having so much air in it. I just have this bizarre image in my head of my chest being made up of loads of chambers and after each productive cough another one gets unblocked.

I couldn't really have been at work today, coughing up crap into a tissue every ten minutes; it wouldn't have been fair on someone.

Divided

Here's an interesting dilemma. What would you do if you had six week paid holiday and someone came along and offered you £600 to spend a week (of that 6 weeks) chaperoning a group of kids on an adventure holiday?

I'd committed myself to doing a few days unpaid work after the holidays start; helping an old friend out with a new project; but this new opportunity has thrown a spanner in the works because of nothing else but the £600. That's the kind of money you don't turn down unless you are a bit stupid.

I'm really chuffed that I've been asked and have had to say yes, which means letting my mate down. However, I have about 2 weeks for my CRB check to come through - doesn't matter that I have one from last November, I have to have another one because this isn't for the organisation I work with. If that doesn't come through, I don't know what they'll do and I can un-let down my mate.

The wife is quite excited about it. She gets the house to herself for 4½ days.

Weather or Not

My great obsession...

I'm sitting here watching puddles get puddles. I was wondering how long it would be before scientists start worrying about the amount of rain water rushing into the sea, making it less salty and probably killing off countless species. Even frogs are writing to the Times complaining about the wet.

However, a couple of websites are suggesting that we might see some calm, sunny and dry weather next week. No heat waves, but hey, fucking 20 degrees would seem like a heatwave at the moment. There is evidence that the jet stream is shifting northwards and there's a northern high pressure drifting towards us. The air will be colder; there'll be the ridiculous concept of frost in Scotland in July and the highest temperatures are likely to be no higher than 23; but more importantly, the only place likely to see any substantial rainfall is the north-west of Scotland, currently the UK's driest place (with just about 10% of its yearly average so far).

This augurs well for a lot of things, including my holiday, the re-roofing of the shed, my adventure holiday and the moving of the greenhouse, of which the beginnings of happened yesterday as I started to tidy up the area where it is going to live from now on.

Because I used to be a complete bastard, I used to want summer to be between the beginning of May and the third week in July; then after six weeks of shit weather, September would be glorious and we'd all enjoy a long Indian summer in October. The reason for the six week interlude was so that school kids had their holidays ruined and because we never, ever took our holidays during that six week period. All has changed and I'm now praying for at least content when they return to hell in September.

5 weeks of gloriously sunny weather, allowing the kids to get thoroughly exhausted and all It's very unusual for me to be so optimistic about the weather; but I don't live in Edinburgh.

Stuff
  • My listening has been disrupted. I was still listening to the stuff I've been listening to for the last few weeks, when something turned up on my welcome mat this morning and very welcome it was too... Because I'm hip with the stars, I get privilege copies of new albums and this morning I received the demo for the 2013 album by Blow Up Hollywood. I'm trying to listen to it objectively - do I like it because it's good or because I'm friends with the guy behind the band? If he lets me, I'll probably write a review of it.
  • Next time you're in a supermarket, just take a few seconds in the fresh produce section to look around. Count the amount of fresh stuff that is there, whether grown in the UK or elsewhere; then times that by how many supermarkets there are in your area, then times that by the amount of supermarkets in the surrounding areas and then throughout the UK and every other country in the world that has supermarkets, or even just ordinary grocery stores. There's an awful lot, isn't there?
  • Am I one of the few people in the world that finds Julia Bradbury both unattractive and possibly the most annoying person on TV since Fern Cotton?
  • This morning I have been sorting my kitchen out. It needed a thorough going over and some stuff got thrown away, like a jar of cardamoms which expired in 2006. They smelled all right, but you know, I can buy a new packet for about 50p.
  • Radio5 Live had an interesting discussion about how bad this year's potato crop is likely to be - that's how rock and roll I am nowadays.
  • The latest addition to my list of useless things that might be able to be utilised to make me a millionaire - ant eggs. Now, I know ant eggs aren't useless to ants, but for some reason the wet weather has proliferated these mountainous ant hills and they are full of millions of white eggs; surely they must be a source of protein? Isn't the kind of thing you could sell to some twat restaurateur as the latest super food or something his idiotically rich customers would pay the same price as caviar for?
  • Lick-able Sellotape

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