Friday, September 17, 2021

SpaceX: Inspiration4 Live Update from the Crew in Space

The event is scheduled to start at 20:55 UTC on Saturday, 2021-09-17.

Posted at 18:48 Permalink

Non-Fungible Tokens as Luxury Goods in the Metaverse

This is a long article, but well worth your time and attention. Although somewhere between 95% and 100% of the current mania for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) (NFT market value tripled in 2020 to more than US$250 million and exceeded US$2 billion in the first quarter of 2021) is almost certainly scams and a bubble fueled by unprecedented creation of central bank funny money, there may actually be the kernel of something real there which merits investigation.

Luxury goods have been a part of human civilisation almost since its inception, and in their modern incarnation, brands, are worth billions and fiercely defended by their owners. Simply affixing a brand name to something as generic as a t-shirt can multiply its market value by a large factor, with customers willing to pay a premium to identify themselves with the prestige of the brand and demonstrate their willingness and ability to waste money to display their own prestige. As human interaction moves increasingly from in-person contact with a small number of people in a locality to virtual venues on a global scale, is it not reasonable to expect this phenomenon to persist in the new medium and perhaps become even more prevalent as the size of the audience increases? Consider how much some value the Twitter “blue check mark” (which has no value and means nothing other than the approbation of the collectivist slavers who run that place), fear its revocation for bad-think, and hold their tongue rather than imperil it.

The article concludes:

Flexing is integral to the human experience. We don’t question the value of physical meatspace items used to project social standing. We understand and value fashion, paintings, jewelry etc. We all don costumes at work that illustrate which professional community we belong to. What is an investment banker without his Hermes tie or her pair of red-soled Louboutins? The costume is part of the self-worth.

Just because robots take all of our meatspace jobs doesn’t mean that humans stop being humans in the metaverse. Social signaling will take new forms powered by blockchain enabled NFT “worthless” objects. Those who recognise the similarities and are early to the creation of a new market for digital Flex goods will reap astronomical returns. Those content to pooh pooh this new worthless form of social signal can continue to walk down a street, into a shop, and purchase a $500 white t-shirt from some well-marketed fashion house. Choose your Flex Good appropriately.

Scalable Flexing is a tech person’s dream. The ability to appear wealthy and cool is not limited to physical proximity, but the entire addressable market of your avatar.

In the news, the Inspration4 private space mission is “carrying” an NFT into Earth orbit. At this writing, 13,520 have been sold.

Posted at 12:11 Permalink

Thursday, September 16, 2021

A Bolt from the Blunderers

Posted at 15:55 Permalink

U.S. Federal Reserve Flexible Consumer Price Index Remains in Record Territory

U.S. Federal Reserve flexible consumer price index, August 2021

Ever since December 1967, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has published a monthly report called the “Sticky-Price Consumer Price Index (CPI)”. The complete time series may be consulted at the St. Louis Federal Reserve's FRED site as data set COREFLEXCPIM159SFRBATL. This index is composed of a weighted basket of goods whose prices have, historically, changed relatively rapidly, and excludes the core items of food and energy. It has, over time, given a snapshot of “sticker price” inflation as perceived by the general populace.

Over its history, the index has mostly meandered in a random walk between 0 and 5 percent annual price change, with two large spikes in the vicinity of 10% in early 1975 and 1980–1981. That's before the index for April 2021 (reported around the middle of the following month, as always), which jumped in one month from 2.5% annualised in March to 8.2% for April. In May, it hit an all-time high since its inception in 1967 of 12%, then in June rocketed to another record of 16.7% and rose slightly to 16.76% in July. The August figures have just been published, and show a decline to 14.7%, which is still around 50% higher than at any time in the half century preceding 2021.

Now, monetary inflation doesn't act all at once or uniformly across an economy. It usually first causes rapid price appreciation in volatile financial markets which tends to feed on itself as a bubble mentality develops (check!), then some time later begins to show up in flexible prices such as tracked by the present index. Only later do “sticky” prices begin to budge, and finally the circle closes as workers demand pay increases to cope with the rising cost of living, which feeds back into cost of goods and accelerates price increases. All of this is generally accompanied by phenomena such as “labour shortages”, “supply chain disruptions”, “a tight housing market”, and other distractions cited by the perpetrators to shift blame from the actual cause, which is profligate money printing uncoupled from the supply of goods in the market.

In any case, here we have another of what what I call a “Year of the Jackpot” chart, showing something happening which has never before occurred during the lifetimes of a majority of living humans. It is not unreasonable to infer that such indicators might portend consequences which are equally outliers to conventional wisdom expectations.

Posted at 13:44 Permalink

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

SpaceX Inspiration4 Launch

The Inspiration4 launch, the first completely privately funded and crewed orbital space mission, is scheduled for 2021-09-16 at 00:02 UTC, which is in the evening hours of Wednesday the 15th of September in Western Hemisphere time zones. As this is not a rendezvous with the space station, there is a five hour launch window should delays occur. At this writing, weather is predicted to be 80% favourable at the start the launch window. Launch opportunities are available on subsequent days in case the launch is scrubbed on the first attempt. Expected mission duration is around three days, with splashdown off the Florida coast.

Everyday Astronaut has complete details of the planned mission in the Inspiration4 Prelaunch Preview.

This will be the first crewed orbital launch not bound for the International Space Station since Space Shuttle STS-125 in May 2009, which performed the final repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, C207-2, was previously flown on the NASA Crew-1 mission in November 2020, and Falcon 9 booster B1062 is making its third flight. The Crew Dragon has been modified by removing the docking adaptor, replacing it with a bubble cupola which will provide panoramic views of the Earth and sky.

Here is a pre-flight question and answer session with the crew the day before launch.

Posted at 10:34 Permalink

Monday, September 13, 2021

SpaceX Starlink Group 2-1 Launch

Launch is scheduled for 03:55 UTC on 2021-09-14 (note that this is in the evening of the 13th in Western Hemisphere time zones) from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. These Starlink satellites are equipped with laser inter-satellite links, which reduces the need for ground stations in remote areas. If successful, this will be the 100th consecutive Falcon 9 mission, the 125th Falcon 9 launch, and the 70th re-flight of a first stage booster. Both the first stage and both of the fairing halves have previously flown.

Posted at 19:55 Permalink

Astrophysical Journal Publishes “If Loud Aliens Explain Human Earliness, Quiet Aliens Are Also Rare”

Read the full paper on ArXiV.

Posted at 14:09 Permalink

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Weekly Space Report: Starship Thermal Protection, Super Heavy Booster Thrust, and Inspiration4 Launch

Posted at 11:06 Permalink

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Tour of the Chinese Space Station Tianhe Core Module

Dialogue is in Chinese, with scrolling English subtitles.

Posted at 12:14 Permalink

Friday, September 10, 2021

Radioactive Decay of Xenon-124 Observed: Half-Life 1.8×1022 Years

Xenon-124 decays to stable tellurium-124 by double electron capture with a half life of 1.8×1022 years, which is around a trillion times the present age of the universe. Its observation by the XENON1T detector is the rarest physical phenomenon ever directly detected. This handily exceeds the previous record set in 2003 by the observation of decay of bismuth-209, half life 1.9×1019 years, about which I wrote in “Barely Radioactive Elements”. This isn't, however, the longest-lived known isotope: tellurium-128, with a double beta decay half life of 2.2×1024 years, which is more than 160 trillion times the age of the universe.

Posted at 11:35 Permalink

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Metaverse—Second Coming for Second Life?

Posted at 13:06 Permalink

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Launch Date Set for James Webb Space Telescope

After twenty-five years of development and an order of magnitude cost overrun to US$ 10 billion, they're going to “push the button” and see what happens.

Posted at 14:03 Permalink

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Anti-Speech Weapons and the “Suck Button”

Posted at 11:40 Permalink

Monday, September 6, 2021

110 Year Old, US$78 Billion Company Spins Off 90,000 Employee Subsidiary, Nobody To Know What It Is

And then there's the name, “Kyndryl”, about which CNN Business reported, “IBM spinoff joins a long list of questionable corporate names”, which begins:

There's a new member in the pantheon of the worst-named companies in history. Introducing "Kyndryl."

That is the actual name of the IT services unit that IBM is spinning off from its core business.

Soon, the 90,000 employees affected by the change will no longer say they work for "IBM" — perhaps one of the more classic, unambiguous corporate names ever — but instead for "Kyndryl," a portmanteau whose meaning and pronunciation aren't immediately clear.

IBM says the "kyn" part of the name is derived from is the word "kinship," and "dryl" comes from tendril, which it said should bring "to mind new growth and the idea that ... the business is always working toward advancing human progress."

Somehow, explaining it just makes it worse. We can deduce that the pronunciation, based on IBM's stated logic, is "KIN-drill," but the seemingly arbitrary use of Ys as vowels opens the door to long-I interpretation: KINE-drile?

Googling the term doesn't find many alternate uses, although there is a scary-looking "World of Warcraft" character that goes by that name.

They've come a long way since “Ever Onward IBM” (lyrics).

Posted at 12:13 Permalink

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Completes 13th Flight

Ingenuity has now been operating on Mars for 141 sols (Martian days), far beyond its planned 30 day technology demonstration mission. It is now being used to scout destinations and routes for the Perseverance rover, which deployed it on 2021-04-03. Here is a pre-flight summary of the plan for flight 13.

Posted at 13:30 Permalink

Weekly Space Report: Starbase Infrastructure, Cargo to ISS, Smallsat Stumbles

Posted at 11:33 Permalink

Friday, September 3, 2021

IBM Z-Series “Telum” Processor—Virtual Memory for CPU Cache?

Here is an IBM promotional video about the chip.

In the following video, Dr Ian Cutress explains the Telum architecture and what it might mean for future consumer market CPU designs.

Posted at 13:50 Permalink

Dead Internet Theory

I asked GPT-J-6B about this. Here is what it said.

The internet is dead. It is all bots.

Bots are the only reason that anybody on the planet today cares what you have to say. Even I don't. If you haven't noticed that most of your blog/news posts go totally ignored, either I'm not aware of it or you are completely inept at writing. You're not the only one who can get it wrong, there are hundreds of other bloggers who do it too. It's just something to be aware of.

To make sure that you don't get lost in that sea of ignored posts and spam, I will now tell you what is going on. Spamming through blog networks, like the one I am on, is known as "blog bombing". We, who blog for free, are always the ones who are caught up in the spam bots. It's something that just has to be accepted.

Posted at 12:39 Permalink

Firefly Aerospace Alpha Experiences “Anomaly” in Flight

“Anomaly” is how they say “KABOOM!” in Safetyland.

The following video from NASASpaceflight (which has nothing to do with the U.S. space agency) is taken from a distance and doesn't show the liftoff (which was normal) very well, but clearly shows, at the 2:24 point, when the rocket went all Kerbal and started tumbling end over end before being blown up (or, in Safetyland patois, “flight termination”) by range safety. “Jeb—turn on SAS!

In the coverage by Everyday Astronaut below, which I've cued to start one minute before launch, it appears the problems started before the loss of control. At the 1:59:42 mark, an odd plume appears at the left of the rocket camera image which wasn't visible previously and doesn't look like a regular exhaust expansion effect. At 2:00:07 there is a call of “Not yet supersonic” at a time which was supposed to be after passing max Q and Mach 1. The supersonic call does not occur until 2:00:36, much later than expected. Then, at 2:00:47 everything goes pear shaped.

Posted at 11:55 Permalink

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Firefly Aerospace Alpha FLTA001 “DREAM” Launch

The launch of Firefly's first Alpha small satellite launcher is scheduled for a four hour launch window between 01:00 and 05:00 UTC on Friday, 2021-09-03. The launch will take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2). Weather is forecast as 100% favourable for launch. This is the first flight for Firefly and its rocket, and will be only the second launch from Vandenberg of any rocket in 2021. If successful, Alpha will place several small satellites in a 300 km orbit with 138° inclination. Here is a preview of the mission. Read more details about the Firefly Alpha.

Everyday Astronaut (Tim Dodd) will be livestreaming the launch attempt at the following channel, with the stream starting one hour before the scheduled launch time (which may be any time within the launch window).

The following video shows a static test firing of this rocket which was conducted on 2021-08-18. The first stage Reaver 1 (heh!) engines use a combustion tap-off cycle, which makes them challenging to start: you'll see a very prominent green flash of the TEA-TEB hypergolic starter fluid used to start combustion and ramp up to sufficient chamber pressure to allow the tap-off to drive the turbopumps.

If you look closely at this video, you may spot an Autodesk logo on the first stage. Autodesk products were used by Firefly in the design of the vehicle, as described by this page and embedded video.

Posted at 18:56 Permalink