Horrible, Offensive Geekery

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Jennifer
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 06 Aug 2018, 12:23

Jake's idea sounds awesome. And it would probably be fairly easy to rig up a pressure gauge out of one of those cheap round plastic battery-operated wall clocks you can get for four or five dollars at cheap-marts.
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JD
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by JD » 06 Aug 2018, 12:59

Heck, depending on your budget and taste for labor, you can get a real pressure gauge for about $10, relic it with some paint, and gimmick it so the needle is stuck wherever you want it to be.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by JD » 06 Aug 2018, 13:13

On a somewhat related note, a friend and I were talking about batteries and energy density this weekend, noting that the energy density of batteries is quite low compared to, say, gasoline. A gasoline-powered cell phone would be hilariously awesome, and it made me think that a great dieselpunk project would be a vacuum tube walkie-talkie powered by an internal combustion engine. It might not even be that hard (relatively speaking): you hook up a glow engine:

Image

to a small DC motor that you run in reverse as a generator

Image

to power an old "para-talkie" -type circuit:

Image
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Highway
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Highway » 06 Aug 2018, 13:26

"CAN YOU SPEAK UP? I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF MY PHONE..."
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Warren » 06 Aug 2018, 19:30

JD wrote:
06 Aug 2018, 13:13
On a somewhat related note, a friend and I were talking about batteries and energy density this weekend, noting that the energy density of batteries is quite low compared to, say, gasoline. A gasoline-powered cell phone would be hilariously awesome, and it made me think that a great dieselpunk project would be a vacuum tube walkie-talkie powered by an internal combustion engine. It might not even be that hard (relatively speaking): you hook up a glow engine
Uhh
to a small DC motor that you run in reverse as a generator
And the inefficiency of that just lost you most of that density you're trying to gain.
Not to mention, that an apples to apples comparison requires you weigh and measure the total power delivery system including engine and generator compared to just the battery.

Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Though, "for the fuck of it" is always a valid justification.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 08 Aug 2018, 13:34

I can only see the lede of this article because the rest is hidden behind a subscription paywall, but: "Sound waves are a form of antigravity because they have negative mass.":

https://www.newscientist.com/article/21 ... 1533651697
Heavy metal music isn’t heavy after all – it is actually the opposite. Sound waves have mass and can interact via gravity, but that mass is negative. In other words, sound floats upwards.

Angelo Esposito at Columbia University in New York and his colleagues calculated the relationship between sound and gravity, taking into account complicated particle interactions that had previously been ignored. They found that, although the effect is small, sound waves should have negative gravitational mass.

“It’s almost like antigravity,” says Ira Rothstein at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. “The …
Of course I noticed long ago that sound waves tend to rise rather than fall -- say, by attending concerts where the volume level in the balcony was always greater than on ground level below the stage -- but I'm embarrassed to admit I never thought to wonder why. Now that I am, though, I'm wondering: it may not be scientifically plausible, but it might be science-fictionally plausible, to imagine some way of using sound waves to counter if not outright block gravity... at least if you're not in a vacuum.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by JD » 08 Aug 2018, 13:57

Jennifer wrote:
08 Aug 2018, 13:34
I can only see the lede of this article because the rest is hidden behind a subscription paywall, but: "Sound waves are a form of antigravity because they have negative mass.":
I'd love to read more about that, because technically speaking, soundwaves are not so much a thing as they are a property of other things.
I'm wondering: it may not be scientifically plausible, but it might be science-fictionally plausible, to imagine some way of using sound waves to counter if not outright block gravity... at least if you're not in a vacuum.
Already done! https://phys.org/news/2016-08-acoustic- ... phere.html
(although we should note that the "large sphere" of the title was all of two inches in diameter...still, that's "large" compared to the wavelength of the sound.)
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 08 Aug 2018, 14:21

Gravity is weird because it's the weakest of the natural forces, but also the one that's impossible to block or shield against. Magnetism is far stronger than gravity, yet also very easy to block -- I have this one particular fridge magnet which on the one hand is strong enough to stick to the fridge in defiance of the total gravitation pull of all of the Earth's mass, yet so weak it can only hold a single sheet of flimsy loose-leaf or receipt-type paper; a single postcard is too thick for that magnet to stick to the fridge.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 08 Aug 2018, 14:44

The "negative mass" of gravity has to do with how disturbances of pressure and density (which is what sound is) propagate in a gravitational field. This is the paper they're talking about:

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1807.08771.pdf

New Scientist likes to hype stuff. The physics is interesting enough, but it's not nearly as weird and mind-bending and sci-fi omg as it sounds. Nobody's going to make wormholes or antigravity or whatever using sound waves. Maybe they'll make a system that has certain analogies to those things, but nobody's going to be traveling through space and time in ways that defy what we thought possible.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 08 Aug 2018, 16:46

thoreau wrote:
08 Aug 2018, 14:44
New Scientist likes to hype stuff. The physics is interesting enough, but it's not nearly as weird and mind-bending and sci-fi omg as it sounds. Nobody's going to make wormholes or antigravity or whatever using sound waves. Maybe they'll make a system that has certain analogies to those things, but nobody's going to be traveling through space and time in ways that defy what we thought possible.
Yeah, some people on Hacker News like to submit links to New Scientist. Fortunately, that means the people there are trained to post links to better articles in the discussions. :D

(Sadly, no such comment in the neglected thread there on this article.)
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 08 Aug 2018, 17:39

I just discovered Humans and Households, and it really drives home how fucked up D&D scenarios are.

"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 08 Aug 2018, 23:06

Ellie will probably not want to watch the third episode (of 3) of that.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Ellie » 08 Aug 2018, 23:31

I appreciate the warning and will stay away!
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 12 Aug 2018, 14:52

Doctors have figured out how to treat a heart attack in a centaur.

http://www.dorkly.com/post/86896/centaur-med

So if Jadagul's friend ever gets that surgery he'll have access to quality healthcare.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 16 Aug 2018, 16:36

This was inspired by re-reading or at least remembering certain discussions we've had here before, including but not limited to "Why did early farmers stick with farming even though their lives were worse than hunter-gatherers," "What will future societies make of us now, continuing to burn fossil fuels when we KNOW what it's doing to the planet" (what those two previous examples have in common is, humanity basically realized "Shit, what we're doing now has massive downsides, either for us right now or for future generations, but we kind of HAVE to keep doing it because that's the only way to sustain the much-higher population we have now, compared to when we did things the Old Way"), and "How can we store our nuclear waste in such a way that future generations will know to stay the hell away from it, even if they have forgotten OUR language and alphabet and everything else about our culture?"

So it occurs to me: suppose civilization were destroyed -- not by nukes or anything which makes the earth inherently less capable of supporting human life, but because Captain Trips or zombie-virus or whatever kills so many people that the survivors aren't enough to keep our modern civilization going. Within 200 years -- I chose that time frame because it's long enough to ensure "Everyone who remembers our current lifestyle is dead, and everyone who ever KNEW anyone who remembers our current lifestyle is also dead" -- knowledge of our civilization has receded into legendary status. ("The Ancient Ones lived in the magical land of Electra City, where they could make heat and light without fire, listen to music without musicians or singers, turn water into ice on even the hottest of days.....")

So anyway, humanity's been booted back to the Stone Age, or earliest Metal Age. But eventually they start getting their act together, and in a thousand years or so the human race's technological and scientific knowledge is back up to where the western world was around 1700. That date I picked because a cursory Google search says that's when England's "coal revolution" started, and of course burning coal gives you a HELL of a lot more energy than burning wood or dried animal dung or any other non-fossil fuel sources people had then.

But, I'm thinking this civilization will not be able to advance much farther beyond that, because they won't have the easily available fossil fuels our ancestors had. The first oil wells were easy to drill with only Victorian-era technology, because those were the oil fields so close to the surface, in some cases it naturally bubbled up from the ground. (And early fishermen in the Middle East were able to waterproof their boats with naturally occurring patches of petroleum "pitch" -- I'm going to guess that decades of oil drilling in that part of the world have dried out the places where ancient fishermen could get this pitch right off the ground, without mining or drilling or any sort of "refinement" techniques.) But the oil and fossil-fuel energy sources that Victorians could extract with their technology is pretty much all gone, and the Victorians could never have drilled oil from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico or North Sea or similar places. The only reason WE have the technology to do such things is because we were able to build on Victorian foundations -- which required making use of that easily accessible Victorian-era fossil fuel. I don't know if it would even have been possible to make Victorian or Edwardian-era nuclear discoveries, without the level of technology powered by Victorian or Edwardian fossil fuels.

In other words: unless there's something I'm overlooking, if humanity were to lose the advanced technological/industrial civilization we have now and regress back to pre-industrial times, our descendants would NEVER be able to regain that lost ground, because the ladder we climbed to get where we are now is missing several of its bottom rungs. Maybe they could somehow invent (or discover and decode the Ancient Ones' blueprints for) hydroelectric dams without first inventing coal- or gasoline-powered steam engines, but I dunno -- in technological terms, that might be like expecting a kid to run before he's learned to walk or even crawl.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jadagul » 16 Aug 2018, 17:01

That's more or less the premise of Ringworld, right? Because the ring was artificially constructed and didn't have any mineable deposits, once civilization collapsed it could never rise back up even to a metal-working society.

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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 16 Aug 2018, 17:07

Not having read Ringworld, I do not know.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 16 Aug 2018, 18:21

I am curious, though: does anyone in the Gryll Brain Trust notice something I am overlooking, to disprove the thesis "Given the currently available natural resources on Earth, a future civilization with only the scientific and technological know-how of the most advanced parts of western Europe circa 1700 would not be able to have their own Industrial and Technological Revolutions as we did, because where high-energy fuel sources are concerned, there's no low-hanging fruit left for them to pick"?

Is it even plausible to posit a scenario "Despite a near-complete lack of petroleum or coal energy sources, a society with nothing more powerful than wood-fueled steam engines can at least become advanced enough to equal 1930s-era humans in building Hoover Dams to generate electricity?" Could they plausibly build from that to get to where we are now -- even though the easy-to-reach Victorian coal mines and oil fields are pretty well tapped out, we still get scads of energy from fossil fuels, because we have technology advanced enough to drill oil wells in deep-sea beds and strip-mine entire mountains and the like, and we even know how to use nuclear fuel (though, again, I'm skeptical we could've done that without first having a few generations of petroleum-powered technology to enable those discoveries).
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 17 Aug 2018, 19:47

I don't know how absolutely thoroughly global coal deposits reachable by 1700s-tech miners have been depleted. Such a problem would be plausible, at least at first glance.

The margin between "smashing all advanced civilization and knowledge" and "wiping out the species" is really, really narrow, though. A lot narrower than the space most post-apocalyptic stories exist in. A magical super-plague wouldn't prevent the immediate survivors from seeking out and retaining useful knowledge in textbooks and how-to manuals and the like. Some of those survivors would have technical skills they'd pass on, etc. And some portion of those people would make time, even at the risk of their own survival, to try to preserve and pass on knowledge.

It's kind of why the Dies the Fire series had to go the Alien Space Bats route of technology suddenly just not working, anymore.; the old apocalypses just don't seem to give useful setups. And even in that setting, a lot of knowledge is retained, from what I've read (since I never got around to those doorstoppers).





* A possible wrinkle is setting the apocalypse a little down the road and assume that physical books are rare-to-nonexistent. But we're not really anywhere near that, yet. We're not even near there with new books, much less great stacks of accumulated knowledge in every library and bookstore. And people would start printing out books if they had to power their computer and printer with bicycles. Or they'd treasure their solar-powered toughbook ebook readers. :D
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Painboy » 17 Aug 2018, 19:58

While crude oil wouldn't be around whale oil would be. It's what was used during the early industrial revolution before crude oil was discovered in large quantities. I imagine after a couple thousand years the whale population would have bounced back greatly.

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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 17 Aug 2018, 20:36

Painboy wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 19:58
While crude oil wouldn't be around whale oil would be. It's what was used during the early industrial revolution before crude oil was discovered in large quantities. I imagine after a couple thousand years the whale population would have bounced back greatly.
IIRC whale oil was primarily useful as a source of light: compared to all other "burn stuff solely for illumination" options available, whale oil apparently burned far brighter than anything they had before, and (at least at first) was much cheaper than other lighting options. That did lead to a growth of productivity (and also increased social or political activity among ordinary people) now that nighttime illumination was noticeably better and more affordable than what came before -- but there could never be enough whale oil to remotely replace all the coal and petroleum used just in the 19th century, let alone the post-automotive 20th.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 17 Aug 2018, 20:50

Eric the .5b wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 19:47
The margin between "smashing all advanced civilization and knowledge" and "wiping out the species" is really, really narrow, though. A lot narrower than the space most post-apocalyptic stories exist in. A magical super-plague wouldn't prevent the immediate survivors from seeking out and retaining useful knowledge in textbooks and how-to manuals and the like. Some of those survivors would have technical skills they'd pass on, etc. And some portion of those people would make time, even at the risk of their own survival, to try to preserve and pass on knowledge.
This is something I brought up in another geek discussion, about how to store nuclear waste so that future generations will know not to contaminate themselves with it, even if those future people have been through a complete break from our civilization:
Jennifer wrote:
05 May 2017, 17:57
Another thing I remember reading, about life in early colonial America, and England some time before that-- "literacy" as we know it was a bit different then. We lump "reading and writing" together like two sides of the same coin, taking for granted that if you can do one you can do the other (except for very young children still developing basic motor skills), but back then, it was relatively common for kids (even non-aristocrats) to learn how to read, because it was considered important to be able to read the Bible and prayer books and things of that nature, but learning how to write was much rarer. Because writing in those days required some fairly expensive equipment -- in Shakespeare's day, a loaf of bread cost about two-thirds of a day's pay for a typical unskilled laborer, and a single sheet of paper cost as much as a loaf of bread -- and "writing" did not merely entail knowing how to shape certain marks on paper, but knowing how to use a penknife to carve goosefeathers into the proper shape to serve as a nib, and either knowing how to make your own ink or being rich enough to buy it -- it's not like today, where paper and pens are super-cheap and can even be had for free. (Businesses will give away pens and pencils as advertising tchotchkes -- and paper can also be had for free, so long as you don't mind paper that already has something printed on one side of it. I throw away at least a dozen junk-mail form letters every week -- even my frugal-by-American-standards self is not so frugal as to save that paper to write grocery lists or whatever on the back.)

So assuming I survived a "peaceful" apocalypse -- a pandemic or something which did not destroy the infrastructure around me -- the amount of paper and writing supplies I have right now could possibly last me the rest of my life, even if new paper or pens could not be acquired. (I happen to have more pens and paper than usual, especially since I never did entirely outgrow my fondness for buying beautiful blank books or notebooks when they can be had inexpensively.) I'm guessing the pens would eventually either run out of ink or have the ink dry up, but there's pencils, and I suppose eventually I'd figure out some local plant-juice concoction which could be used as makeshift ink if necessary. Maybe I even have enough paper and blank books that my hypothetical post-apocalyptic kid could keep a journal for most of her life, were she so inclined. But even my big supply of blank paper would run out before too long -- even if my hypothetical kid is just as "literate" as anybody in today's society, I'm inclined to doubt my hypothetical grandkids would be. Perhaps they could still read Grandma's books, but even if they knew how to write, what would they have to write on, or with?

IOW, I think the ability to record and store new knowledge would die out pretty quickly after this apocalypse, even with the best of intentions. If I'm struggling to learn how to be a subsistence farmer and teach these skills to my kids, I don't know that I'd have the time to also learn how to be a subsistence paper-maker.
Of course, assuming a "peaceful" apocalypse that leaves most of our infrastructure and stuff intact -- and also assuming the survivors were able to find each other and build mutually beneficial communities fairly quickly -- there would still be ample supply of canned and freeze-dried foods left over from civilization, presumably to help tide everyone over while they re-established farming and maybe tried generating some electricity.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Painboy » 17 Aug 2018, 20:58

Jennifer wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 20:36
Painboy wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 19:58
While crude oil wouldn't be around whale oil would be. It's what was used during the early industrial revolution before crude oil was discovered in large quantities. I imagine after a couple thousand years the whale population would have bounced back greatly.
IIRC whale oil was primarily useful as a source of light: compared to all other "burn stuff solely for illumination" options available, whale oil apparently burned far brighter than anything they had before, and (at least at first) was much cheaper than other lighting options. That did lead to a growth of productivity (and also increased social or political activity among ordinary people) now that nighttime illumination was noticeably better and more affordable than what came before -- but there could never be enough whale oil to remotely replace all the coal and petroleum used just in the 19th century, let alone the post-automotive 20th.
Which is why I said early industrial revolution. Oil was used for far more stuff than just fuel in the Industrial revolution and whale oil was likely necessary to get to the next phase of it.

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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 17 Aug 2018, 21:35

Painboy wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 20:58
Jennifer wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 20:36
Painboy wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 19:58
While crude oil wouldn't be around whale oil would be. It's what was used during the early industrial revolution before crude oil was discovered in large quantities. I imagine after a couple thousand years the whale population would have bounced back greatly.
IIRC whale oil was primarily useful as a source of light: compared to all other "burn stuff solely for illumination" options available, whale oil apparently burned far brighter than anything they had before, and (at least at first) was much cheaper than other lighting options. That did lead to a growth of productivity (and also increased social or political activity among ordinary people) now that nighttime illumination was noticeably better and more affordable than what came before -- but there could never be enough whale oil to remotely replace all the coal and petroleum used just in the 19th century, let alone the post-automotive 20th.
Which is why I said early industrial revolution. Oil was used for far more stuff than just fuel in the Industrial revolution and whale oil was likely necessary to get to the next phase of it.
Sure, but regarding my hypothetical, it's still largely the same question: given the fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources currently available on earth, after a couple centuries of extracting the easy-to-get stuff, could a society with only circa-1700 levels of knowledge with the addition of whale-oil lamps to make after-dark activity far cheaper than before rebuild to the point where we are now? Or would it be impossible, because those people lack the easy-to-get coal and oil which "our" civilization used to power the astounding leaps in technology and productivity from year-1700 to the dawn of the nuclear age?

Perhaps another way to word the question is, assume a society with no nuclear or fossil-fuel power sources, only the power sources available on the eve of the coal revolution, namely, burning biological matter: wood, animal fat, animal dung. Even if you gave this society all the knowledge necessary to build a 1930s-era hydroelectric dam -- everything from the formula for the concrete to how to make the turbines -- could they build these dams, with only musclepower plus whatever they get from burning biological matter?
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 17 Aug 2018, 21:43

Jennifer wrote:
17 Aug 2018, 20:50
This is something I brought up in another geek discussion, about how to store nuclear waste so that future generations will know not to contaminate themselves with it, even if those future people have been through a complete break from our civilization:
Yeah, but I don't buy the "literacy will die out" premise. If that were true, writing would have never lasted. Further, I think you underestimate the efforts of people to try to hold onto their civilization.
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