Dark Matter

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About Dark Matter

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  • Birthday 09/14/56

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  1. I think you we are at cross purposes. Obviously 20 billion or 1 trillion are physically impossible, and you naturally assumed I was an idiot! Fair enough, you may be correct . The point I was making was that many people feel that 1 or 2 percent is moderate sustainable growth, but when you make a table showing what it results in (ridiculously high numbers), they think you have tricked them somehow. Its the story of the wheat grains on a chess board. I was referring to public debate - which you must admit is pretty ordinary these days. No need for debates with any of the S&S people. My background is applied mathematics and engineering - so this post is just some alternate thinking prompted by reading Michael Pascoe and friends - make of it what you will. 20 b , 1 trillion -- http://en.wikipedia....tio_ad_absurdum
  2. I wasn't meaning the level of debate on this forum - more the Michael Pascoe type comments in the media. OK, this is how I would approach this issue. Why don't we look at population growth in biological terms rather than economic ones. Is doubling a population in roughly 1-2 generations .... - a normal situation? - a response to a collapse (war disease)? - a response to a sudden abundance of resourses? Exponential function shows that doubling in 1-2 generations can't be a steady state condition. Baby Boom after WWII would cover the second one. You might say that Australia is now responding to a glut of mineral resources and expanding to consume them. That doesn't sound like a good idea. There have been very long lived species in earths history. How did they go with population control? Pick a dinosaur. Any dinosaur - say T Rex. The fossils show they were around for several million years in more or less the same shape and size about 65m years ago. Since we aren't knee deep in T Rex bones its probably safe to say they didn't have continuous 1.4% population growth. In fact, over those few million years the average population growth of the T Rex was zero (obviously). Even if you looked at a period of say 100,000 years the average growth rate must have been tiny fractions of a percent. 1.0001^100,000 is a factor of 22,000 - so if you started with 100K T Rex and grew for 100,000 years at 1.0001 - 2 billion T Rex. Probably a high number for a top predator. The T Rex had a pea brain - so how did they manage to arrive at long term growth rates accurate to better than 100ppm (parts per million)? There are 2 parts to this as far as I can see - 1. T Rex population was subject to a finite but inexhaustible constraint - energy from the sun. Energy drove the food chain - so even at the top of the food chain you can only be as big as the base. No 1.4% long term growth for T Rex. 2. Feed back mechanism. In Control Theory, one of the simplest forms of feedback is the two state discrete feedback. In the early days this was called bang-bang control. Subject to hysteresis, when a variable gets too high you apply -ve feedback, when it gets too low +ve feedback. Thermostats work like this. It is also how boom and bust cycles work more or less. Population experiences boom and grows exponentially. Something breaks and then there is an sudden collapse. Rinse and repeat thousands of times. Nature's very elegant solution to nonlinear regulation problem. Two state discrete feedback works a bit like oversampling digital filters and converters. You can build an n-bit digital to analogue decoder with a single switch and a filter - you just need to switch it on/off very quickly with the right pattern. The more times it cycles, the more precise is the long term result. So... if boom/bust is the natural solution to population control and it is known to work over millions of years, humans need to either accept it, or work out an alternate less disruptive control mechanism. I think I read that when Steve Keen finishes with the current stuff he has an interest in modeling systems that support zero growth. That should be very interesting. Now, how would you explain any of that to Michael Pascoe?
  3. Max - did you actually read those documents you linked? the 2010 intergenerational report OVERVIEW - Reads like it was written by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard preparing a Year 12 Environmental Sustainability Project . It declares that Climate Change is the greatest challenge facing Australia, but we can still double the population and with a lot of "moving forward" and "addressing the issues" everything will be OK because we have kangaroos and nice beaches. I hope we didn't pay a lot for that lofty tome. The UN 2300 report might have been informative - as you suggest - if it wasn't a complete waste of electrons in pdf format. They go to great lengths to explain there is no way to predict future population and then present a Goldilocks solution of three possible futures - Big Growth, Medium Growth and Little Growth. The Big Growth projection seems to involve a repeal of the exponential function - as it looks more or less linear with a bit of a bend in it. I guess its not prudent to scare the punters with a 1 trillion world population scenario by 2500. Like other UN reports there are several authored sections where the expert goes to great lengths to try and sound erudite while saying nothing that is accountable. You know what the real issue is here? There are two statements that will see any politician tarred and feathered and declared a loony 1. Zero Growth (long term sustainability) 2. Catastrophic population/economic decline (a decimation event) The level of debate on these issues is very poor. Debating whether we aim for 30m, 35m or 40m is pretty weak I think - it is actually avoiding the real issue of the viability (or not) of zero growth.
  4. No he didn't say anything about 400 years. The point is that also didn't mention how growth could come to a sudden stop in the future. If we can't stop now, why could we stop at 40m? 20b looks like a ridiculous number - the eventual result of exponential growth always looks so extreme that humans discount it out of hand. Malthus wasn't wrong - he was just ahead of his time.
  5. Tony Abbott has proposed reducing Australia's population growth to 1.4%. How many people really understand what this means? It sounds like a fairly modest growth rate, but it is still exponential growth. When you do the simple maths, it poses some difficult questions. Firstly, 1.4% growth is a doubling in 50 years - 1.014^50 =2 so .. if Australia adopted this modest growth rate for the next 500 years we would have 2010 20m 2060 40m 2110 80m 2160 160m 2210 320m 2260 640m 2310 1.28b 2360 2.56b 2410 5.12b 2460 10.24b 2510 20.48b - 20 billion in Australia - 3 times the current world population and X1000 of present 2010 Australia. Based on the current city model, that would mean replicating Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart each One Thousand times -- imagine what that looks like on a map. 6000 large cities encrusting the coastline! Next, the 10-15 regional centers per state (Newcastle, Rocky, Bendigo etc ) would be multiplied by 1000, so 60k of those sprinkled over the map. Finally the thousands of little towns and hamlets across Australia would be multiplied by 1000 - so a few million of those. Excluding the possibility of free fusion energy and vast underground human ant colonies, 20 billion in Australia looks like an absurd idea. This really means zero or -ve population rates are in our future somewhere in the next 500 years. The question is when, not if. So .. when our politicians say 1.4% population growth, what they really are saying is either - a) grow at 1.4% until we get to a "sustainable" figure - then the politicians of the future will seamlessly and effortlessly convert Australia to a zero population growth economy/society overnight grow at 1.4% until the wheels fall off and worry about it then c) grow at 1.4% and make hay while the sun shines, because a massive cull will sort things out after we are gone - and its not our problem then One thing that really amazes me is that the mathematics of exponential growth is simple, easily demonstrated, and irrefutable - but it is almost a taboo subject. I think that one problem with growth expressed as a percentage is that people confuse it with a linear process. In the world of physics, radioactive decay is expressed in terms of half-life. Exponential population growth would be better expressed as doubling times - 0.7% - 100y doubling time 1.4% - 50y doubling time 2.5% - 30y doubling ( 1 human generation) 7% - 10 y doubling 10% - 7 y doubling Maybe that would make it easier for the average person to grasp how severe unrestrained growth is. Its not a new idea - ideas about limits to growth were quite popular in the 70's (even in SF writing) • Issacc Asimov wrote a lot about it http://www.asimovonl...population.html • The Mote in Gods Eye (Niven/Pournelle) - the Moties were a species plagued by boom and bust population collapses. Also about that time computers became widely available and scientists like Edward Lorenz and Robert May started doing digital simulations of weather and population profiles - which lead into chaos theory. And now we have Professor Bartlett of Boulder Colorado who you can watch on youtube explaining exponential growth in very simple terms. So .. its not new or revolutionary. Where is the informed public debate about this?
  6. As far as I can see, schemes like this are trying to create a form of e-money that, like gold, finds its own value rather than serve the function of a medium of exchange for dollars. It probably doesn't have any huge benefit to anyone at the moment. One interesting feature is that while the population of Bitcoins is rising towards its final maximum (21million I think), anyone with a computer can use cpu cycles to generate coins. This is very low risk bet - all you have to lose is a few trillion nops. I can think of a possible application. Suppose you are a poor young programmer who has written some great game software. You might sell it (or playing time) for Bitcoins - maybe worthless, maybe not - but simpler than asking for real money. Gen Y and the one after that may feel sufficiently p*ssed off and disenfranchised by the present financial system to start looking for alternatives.
  7. You mean the govt would like to ban it. I know what you are saying, but this just points to the following problems - a cryptographic war where open source goes against governments (like pgp) a govt war against free internet (Conroy) I'm sure governments hate any system of alternate currency, however it looks like alternate systems of currency may flourish on the internet. In this monetary primordial soup of the 21st century, who is to say that there may not be a bastard child of Ben Bernanke, Peter Schiff and Alan Turing?
  8. Thats one reason why its interesting. If the transactions are encrypted and the currency floats around outside of national borders, how would the government know what you have been up to? What if a currency like this became a "dark companion" to gold - so people swapped Virtual Currency (VC) for the PM (via fedex pakages, brown paper bags) until the VC started to be a proxy for gold. This is just a what-if speculation here. Suppose that the world economy goes tits up and gold is banned. Imagine that there was a VC proxy for the gold which thrived on the darknet (encrypted internet). How would governments cope with that? I suspect that technology may be about to spawn a glut of black swans.
  9. This might be of interest to Mr. Wulfie and other students of all things monetary. I think its a very interesting idea. http://news.slashdot...ases-Version-03 http://www.bitcoin.org/faq Basically, this system creates a finite number of unique "virtual coins" which exist on the internet and can be traded. Once the software has been distributed, no one controls the system or can make changes to counterfeit or invalidate coins. Anyone who has the software has the algorithm which is used to cross check all transactions. As long as the internet is up, the created BitCoins will float around in cyberspace. If the exchangeable tokens are accepted as money, you have a currency that has similarities to fiat (intrinsically worthless) and PMs like gold (limited supply). From my understanding this is a peer to peer system (like torrents) which creates encrypted virtual coins (bitcoins) and gradually distributes them around cyberspace. The algorithms limit the number of maximum coins produced, and once created, their authenticity is validated by the same network that allows them to be exchanged. Duplication or fraud would require avoiding all of the random nodes in the network which could invalidate the duped or counterfeit bitcoins. You might wonder how it is possible to create virtual coins that are limited in number. Think of it as if you used prime numbers as money tokens. Nothing you can do will alter the distribution of prime numbers (similar properties to gold). Discovering new prime numbers takes exponentially more computing power. Doubling the number of known prime numbers comes at an extreme cost - Ben Bernanke can't print them up like fiat clones. http://en.wikipedia....est_known_prime It will be interesting to see how schemes like this develop. It raises some interesting questions. - Would people trust a complex abstract system of barter that is removed from real stuff (like gold)? - I think we know the answer to this. - If this system is successful it can be copied. Competing systems would be like multiple currencies - or maybe like gold, silver platinum. - Could currencies like this be redeemed for PMs or fiat currencies? What would set the exchange rate? Would they all be referenced to gold? - I would imagine governments would not like "other money" systems springing up - Money systems based on the internet may be subject to censorship. Conroy's hardware internet filters could possibly cripple Virtual Currencies. It adds another motive for government control of the internet.
  10. Virtual Worlds/Communities like WoW are one of the most amazing developments of the computer age. Even if you only have a WoW/EVE account to trade in the virtual economy, that is a game in itself. It is limited, but you can see many real world things there - like inflation, market manipulation, supply and demand. EVE Online has already had at least one ponzi scam. Given that you can run a huge virtual economy on a server farm that uses a few Kwatts, it seems very likely to me that virtual worlds will be a large part of our future and that they will be the Soma for the next generation's lives as peons and serfs. As for me, I can remember the JFK assassination and I have a Level 80 raiding warlock Not exploring Virtual Worlds is like ignoring books when the printing press was invented. lol
  11. There is another aspect to Chinese investment in residential real estate. This anecdotal, but you can draw whatever conclusions you want. My son has a number of friends that went to a private school. One of the kids is from a Chinese family who came over about 12 years ago. The eldest son obtained Australian citizenship and the family bought about $6m worth of properties in the boys name. As far as I know, only one of the 3-4 houses is permanently occupied. Obviously the family is very well connected and wealthy, as they have no interest whatsoever in rental returns or other such trivial issues. I have no idea how unusual this is or if it would be reflected in any housing statistics. Seeing as China is bound to have a long term interest in buying resources from Australia, getting as many chinese "bums on seats" in desirable suburbs in Sydney/Melbourne would have to be a good investment. From a strategic point of view, it seems like a smart move.
  12. The chest freezer is a really good idea. Not so important in the city, but if you have a remote property with a solar system then cutting the electricity consumption of refrigeration is really a big step forward. Particularly if you have to leave the place unattended for a week or so - nothing worse coming back to a rotten fridge. A really cheap alternative to the thermostat he suggests might be an open loop system where you use a timer switch to turn the freezer on for a fixed time(s) every day. Trial and error to get close to the desired temperature. Refrigerators can be a pain with inverters - not because of the average power used, but because of the surge current when the compressor starts. Depending on the fridge, you might need a > 2KW inverter to reliably start the motor. To start a fridge, 24V or 48V inverter systems with low Internal Resistance batteries help as well - I2R losses (I*I*R) go down by 4 every time you double the battery voltage.
  13. There have been a few interesting Electric Cars in the news lately. The miev looks like a design with possibilities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIEV http://www.mitsubish...atis/index.html http://evworld.com/n...fm?newsid=21956 - The Bill goes electric! The big question mark over these is the cost and capacity of the batteries. If they can get the Lithium Battery pack down to a few $K then it looks interesting. They are also short range, so you cant do a Sydney to Melbourne road trip in one, but if you drive less than 100Km a day every day then its good. I did some basic estimates of how an electric car like this could fit in with a solar power installation to work out what the energy cycle could be. Some givens:- o 16KWH battery capacity, 160Km range --> this implies 10Km/KWH for the miev o petrol has an energy equivalent of about 10 KWH/litre - this means that a small compact petrol car rated at 5l/100Km is 50KWH/100Km, or 2Km/KWH - petrol is much better at storing energy, but an IC engine is about 5 times less efficient than the Electric Drive system. o You live 50Km away from your work - so the miev can do the 100Km round trip every day on 10KWH of charge o A 2KW solar array on your roof provides an average of 5H a day - 10KWH per day of solar electricity - which matches the energy consumed by the miev So in a simplified scenario, every day:- The Solar Array pumps 10KWH into the grid during the day (peak). Your 100Km round trip to work uses 10KWH of stored energy in the miev Lithium battery At night the miev is plugged into the grid and recharges 10KWH using off-peak electricity The Electric Vehicle and the Solar Array are doing good things - reducing the use of petrol AND shifting the load on the coal fired generators from peak to offpeak. Per day:- 10KWH of energy into the grid during peak 10 KWH of energy drawn from the grid during offpeak 5 litres of petrol not used by an IC engine You drive 100Km on solar power - no nett energy from fossil fuel required The obvious missing parts of this equation are the setup costs and the buy/sell rates of grid electricity. The initial cost of the Lithium Battery for the car, and the cost of the 2KW solar installation are going to be major factors. The economic viability depends on the upfront investment over the life of the battery, car and solar array. If Electric vehicles can replace even 10% of our car fleet, I think that Australia should be seriously trying to develop Solar and Battery technologies. They aren't labour intensive and the potential benefits look to be huge. UNSW was at one stage a world leader in solar panel research. What happened?
  14. That concrete house has a cantilevered flat section overhanging roof at the front - how would that be built? Would it have steel channels inside it? It certainly looks like an interesting building.
  15. I was reading the concrete thread over on GHPC and searched concrete houses. This one really appeals to me - http://www.trendir.c...aintenance.html This is probably a question for artie - could you build a house like this in Australia? Are there architects and builders that would be in synch with this? It just looks so great! The other concrete house idea that I saw was from tiny houses http://www.tinyhouse...e-house-part-3/ The idea of making a little cabin from 3.6M concrete pipe is pretty cool. Lets hope that Christopher Joye never sees this - I can see thousands of peons being warehoused in stormwater pipes out west of Penrith waiting for a chance to be bussed in to clean his toilet.