May 18th, 2013
I’ve seen a lot of web traffic coming to the BTE site over the past few days. I think this is in part due to the excitement about the new movie, Star Trek: Into Darkness, that was released yesterday. I look forward to seeing it. (If you’ve seen it, no spoilers please.)
So let’s talk about one theme that has been in Star Trek from the beginning. Specifically, Star Trek carries a certain optimism about the future, and this characteristic about Star Trek I find appealing. This optimism is talked about in the 1975 book Star Trek Lives! A reviewer wrote of the book:
The “Optimism Effect” is the view of the future which Star Trek provides. It is a “vision of a brighter future of man, and of a world characterized by hope, achievement and understanding.” Star Trek’s presentation of such a future provides an image of success which can encourage someone seeking success for himself.
The Optimism Effect is not only a statement about the future, it is a statement about the nature of reality. In facing difficulties, discovering their nature and sources, and overcoming them, the Star Trek characters show “that the mind can understand reality and be a useful tool of survival.” This philosophical optimism puts Star Trekin contrast with the view, which is prevalent today, that reality is malevolent and incomprehensible.
Closely related to the Optimism Effect is the “Goal Effect.” This is the presentation of the idea “that important goals are worthwhile, worth striving for and – attainable.” Every episode of Star Trek deals with the seeking and attaining of important goals – the saving of a life, a planet, or even a galaxy, the correction of an injustice, the attainment of co-operation between civilizations.
And the reviewer pulls this quote from the book:
“Man is shown as he could and should be, strong, intelligent, beautiful, confident, solving his problems, heroic – thus furnishing us the fuel to become that way, to reach for the stars.”
Thirty eight years later this all still rings true. And I can think of just the spaceship to build to help remind us daily of this optimistic view of the future!
May 16th, 2013
Not widely known is that in the US there is an oil production boom going on. In states like North Dakota and Texas it is the wild west of the oil boom days again. See the rapid rise in oil production in the graph at the top of this post. And production is still increasing each month.
Unemployment in North Dakota is around 3%. It’s hard to even find housing near the oil fields. The pay is good and there are plenty of jobs. There are plenty of oil field jobs in Texas too.
Since the 1960s we have heard that “peak oil” will soon be upon us. When the peak arrives, some predictions expect a rapid fall off in global oil production and a worldwide economic catastrophe as a result. Now, it’s true that someday oil production will begin a steady decline. But it’s looking more and more like a rapid fall in production will not happen any time soon, and we will be spared any economic disaster. Things are looking good at least until 2030.
The oil boom – and the natural gas boom that is just as big – are in part happening because new, advanced drilling techniques like fracking have made it economical for businesses to pursue new sources of oil and gas.
Of course in the long term fossil fuels are not desirable for being our major energy source. They pollute the air and also dump a lot of unwanted CO2 into Earth’s atmosphere. But an oil and natural gas production boom to hold off any possibility of peak oil causing sudden drops in the world’s oil supply buys us time for developing alternatives. Alternatives, that is, like LENR or Hot Fusion. (Wind and solar just don’t seem up to the task of replacing fossil fuels.)
May 15th, 2013
One of the blog posts I lost in April when the BTE site crashed was about the Hot Fusion reactor being investigated at Lockheed Skunkworks. In the video below Charles Chase talks about it. If this invention works, this is a very big deal. And this reactor would be perfect to power the Enterprise. But really, until a working prototype exists, skepticism is in order. Hot Fusion reactors are notoriously hard to develop.
May 14th, 2013
For the sections of the Enterprise that house the engines, I’ve called them “engine hulls” on the BTE site. In Star Trek lingo, and for some Earth-based aircraft too, the word nacelle is used instead to describe the part of the ship or airplane that holds an engine while being separate from the fuselage. The nacelles for the Boeing 707 jet are shown above.
Maybe I should have used the term nacelles instead of “engine hulls” on the BTE site. I suppose they mean about the same thing. And maybe I should start using the word nacelle in the future.
One problem I have with the word nacelle is that I can never remember how to pronounce it.
May 12th, 2013
This week marks the one year anniversary of the BuildTheEnterprise website. Break out the champagne!
Below are some highlights of what went on over this past year. Most are known about, but today I reveal some items for the first time.
- The BTE website was launched in early May 2012 and immediately went from obscurity to gaining significant worldwide media attention including in the major news media.
- 31,406 Facebook likes for the BTE site as of today.
- BTE-Dan interviewed in the Washington Times.
- Forum has over 6900 posts (thank you nuclearman and forum staff for facilitating this)
- BTEWiki launched and very many pages added (special thanks to Michel Lamontagne for adding so much good content)
- 190 BTE blog posts published where many hopefully help refine what might make sense for the Gen1 Enterprise technologies. And commenters contributed many thoughts.
- Created a companion BTE Facebook page, twitter account with over 1000 followers, and a Pinterest page. And thanks to the volunteer who created the Google+ page.
- Submitted a White House petition to have NASA do a feasibility study of the Gen1 Enterprise. Received over 7200 signatures and some mainstream media attention.
- Raised awareness that Cold Fusion (LENR) may be close to having production reactors and highlighted the need for the DOE to test them and get involved. Submitted a White House petition. (LENR, if it works, will transform energy technologies on Earth and also provide an ideal nuclear power source for the Enterprise.)
- Raised awareness that two working prototypes of EmDrives exist and it’s claimed that they create thrust without propellant (but they have not been independently tested). Interviewed inventor Roger Shawyer.
- An independent documentary filmmaker in Ireland had a meeting and formally pitched making a documentary on the BTE ideas to the Discovery channel, but he did not get approved.
- I submitted a non-fiction book proposal on the BTE site ideas. A top New York City literary agent was very interested and helped develop the written proposal. But in the end the agent believed a credentialed aerospace expert had to co-write the book, and so he did not submit the proposal to book publishers. He said they would not accept it without a co-writer. (So I have stopped all work on this.)
- Created a complete BTE company website, company name, and company logo. Sorry, keeping this all private until if and when a company is someday launched.
What’s next? Some thoughts -
- Get a dedicated Wikipedia page about the BTE website and BTE core ideas. (I submitted a request for this. Not sure how this can be accelerated.)
- Kickstarter project? Some new ideas: fund hull mechanical stress simulations and Enterprise ship flight dynamics, or independently test the Chinese EmDrive prototype, or build a 500:1 scale gravity wheel prototype, or independently test the LENR ECAT reactor, or build a 2 foot (1500:1 scale) Enterprise prototype and launch it into space, or build a 6 foot (500:1 scale) underwater Enterprise that can be used for testing (assuming underwater can somewhat simulate space). Other ideas?
- I’m thinking about asking some aerospace experts to get involved in the BTE venture but not give their real names. This way they can contribute without worrying about any fall out in their day jobs for working on a project that some consider to be too speculative and too far out there.
- I will launch a new website, which is only loosely related to the BTE venture, in about 1-2 months. It will be about building a high-tech model city on Earth from scratch.
- Start a BTE R&D company? All depends on if funding is attained. I of course would love to leave my day job to run a BTE company.