Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why are oil and tar black?

Not sure if Dr Chris Fellows should do this as a research project. The main thing is that I am conjecturing that what makes comet's nucleus' surfaces black is crude oil (in a solid gel form) rather than agglomerated soot. 

I was not sure what it was about crude oil that made it black, but apparently neither is anybody else. I had it in my head that it was the "impurities" that made it black, ie possibly soot particles within the crude oil or something like that, because distilled oil is usually *not* black. Soft enough to absorb micrometeoric impacts, but solid enough that it keeps its form, especially jets, from collapsing in on themselves on a comet.

Why are oil and tar black?

I am afraid that at present, no one can answer this deceptively simple question. Even the most basic structural properties of the asphaltenes and their aggregates remain conjectural. I believe that optical properties reflect collective electronic transitions in the PAH aggregates, but this is nothing more than an educated guess.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Evolution and Abiogenesis

I find a continuing mental journey away from both religious thought and standard evolutionary synthesis.
I am not happy about religion because what they say about origins is not based on observable facts.
I am not happy about science because what they say about origins is not based on observable facts.

The presumption of abiogenesis is the assumption that there was a time that there was no life. The philosophical necessity for random unguided processes to move from non life to life does not exist in my brain. Neither does the philosophical necessity of an omnipotent deity exist just to defy the other necessity.

My current theory is that life as we don't know it is an emergent property of the Big Bang, and that life as we do know it has been designed on the fly in a multi stage process. The only stage of the process that is accessible to humans observations is the last one - Life as we don't even perceive as life designing life as we know it.

Of course this theory suffers for the same reasons as why I am not happy with religion and science. 

Predicting new facts is the gold standard here - What new facts does religion, abiogenesis or standard evolutionary synthesis predict about what we will find on other planets, asteroids and comets? Not really anything, but we can be pretty sure to be able to fit them into our theories for the moment.

I don't think predicting new facts is given enough weight in science of origins. We keep our overall theories vague enough and keep strictly to a nearly social need for a democratic concensus between scientists who spend most of their time studying these things. This instead of the need for a myriad of competing ideas which will predict different facts when we eplore the far reaches of our World and universe.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The new NBN = the old Telstra deja vu

One picture of a redhead animee character does not a tweet make, so I will see what I can make of the coalition's rearrangement of the NBN. Although the ideology behind the new NBN stinks, the circumstances of the policy takeover are such that the changes in direction are mostly harmless. The reason that they are mostly harmless is that the unprofitable country areas were front-ended and fast tracked into the original NBN, such that the countrywide backbone and country capacity is basically there already and will not be dismantled. The NBN co. is now scrambling to do the exact opposite, by frontending and fast tracking fibre capacity to profitable city areas before competing telco's try to cherry-pick them through loopholes in the new NBN structure. The "last mile" is the most expensive bit of the conversion to Fibre, but at least now Fibre to the node is equivalent in accessibility in country areas as it is in city areas. Now the question is who gets to be connected to what and when? Once the cherrypickers have been headed off, the sensible thing would be to improve the most blackest spots in the quickest time without locking in to inferior technology unnecessarily.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


From when this flight went missing, it gradually dawned on me that this could be (an attempt of) the perfect crime. Perhaps somewhat inspired by the show "Lost", the plane could just vanish without a trace. In spite of modern technology  - it was entirely plausible that it may never be found. Luck and technology seemed to be failing the search team. Luck, clever detective work or a combination was desperately needed.

Just in time, perhaps on a best bet calculation, the black box detector was sent out. I refuse to believe it was entirely luck - I believe a tiger team using classified defence based technology, as well as satellite data calculated the most likely place scientifically. Luck finally changed and humanity's pride should be salvaged with the likely retrieval of black boxes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blogging Again

Not sure where to start. I kind of want to say how I think Australia's policy is going with the new government. I thought it strange and difficult for Australia to successfully negotiate a trade agreement with a country we just challenged successfully in the court of blubber ball hunting. Then with the renegade mainland provinces as a kind of double whammy. It gives me the impression of Asian countries competing to gain favour with Australia - to sell us stuff or to thank us for finding a plane or something. Tail wagging the dog again. The mercantilistic approach of the new government contrasting with the more self righteous lecturing style of the previous. 

I believe the new NBN plan is still worse than the old plan, but at least a lot of the country back haul is built, and the fact that the "inclusive" portion which would not be profitable for private network builders is also developed. The main problem is that the new plan is a mess and puts a lot of power to Telstra to suit itself.