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Posts Made By: Terry Friedrichsen

August 14, 2004 11:42 PM Forum: Polls

Observatory - I .....

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

Well, I waited a whole lotta years, but I finally was able to get serious a few years ago, and here's the result:

http://www.bunker-ranch.org:8080/astro/observatory.html

I am at last ready to start some astrophotography, as soon as the monsoons stop clouding up the skies!

Terry

May 28, 2006 06:03 AM Forum: Polls

Who wins the NBA Championship?

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

I find it interesting that a poll on a televised singing competition never fails to get a thread like "who cares?" or "how about a poll on something meaningfui?" or some such thing ... but a poll listing several cities about a televised sports competition called "NBA championship" gets no such responses.

So what's the criterion here? Is it perhaps the fact that almost everyone thinks they can sing, but most of us *know* that we couldn't play basketball at an NBA level?

One might be tempted to argue that American Idol is a made-for-TV event, whereas the NBA championship is a separate event that TV is merely *covering*. But I don't really see the relevance of that, since singing competitions predate TV just as the NBA does.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a basketball fan (though not particularly an NBA fan), and I'd watch Kellie Pickler if she was just sitting in a chair reading a book. I'm just trying to understand the different reactions to the two events.





August 30, 2006 01:57 PM Forum: Polls

Pluto

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

I've been watching this voting with some level of fascination. I would have expected a group
composed primarily of interested amateur astronomers to be more in tune with the idea that
Pluto is *not* a planet. As I write this, the voting is about 58% is, 42% isn't - that's a sur-
prise to me.

Even as a kid in the '60s, I recall thinking that Pluto should not be classified as a planet;
its orbital parameters alone clearly pointed towards a different origin than the other 8.

As someone else pointed out, "planet" is merely whatever we define the word to mean. But I
would have expected, here, more satisfaction with a definition that excludes Pluto.

Terry (astrotrf)

August 29, 2006 05:30 AM Forum: Polls

Pluto

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

Pluto doesn't orbit particularly closely to the plane of the other planets - that alone should make one suspicious that it isn't. Strike 1.

Then there's it's very high orbital eccentricity - it even *crosses* the orbit of Neptune. If it was in an orbit that was rather more in the plane of the other planets, Neptune might have sucked it up long ago, barring their mutual 3:2 orbital-period resonance. Strike 2.

Finally, there's the fact that its origin is clearly as a Kuiper Belt Object that strayed too far inward toward the Sun and begin interacting gravitationally with Neptune - so it's a KBO. Strike 3 and yer out.

Terry (astrotrf)



August 30, 2006 02:04 PM Forum: Polls

Pluto

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

Michael Sutherland said:
Most of the "classic" planets wouldn't pass the cleaning out their neighborhood requirement.

On the other hand, I think most folks would agree that such a requirement neatly
excludes the largest asteroids, such as Ceres.

And I'm sure it's understood that "cleaning out" doesn't mean devoiding the neigh-
borhood of every last rock.

Terry (astrotrf)

November 8, 2006 02:49 AM Forum: Polls

My next computer will be a...

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

It would be interesting to see a third choice: "neither of the above".

Terry (astrotrf)

June 20, 2008 05:05 AM Forum: Polls

Drill ANWR

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

There's a lot that could be said about the various points being made, often with some heat, here ...

1) conservation: you have to realize that conservation is only a short-term solution. Suppose everyone conserved, and we dropped oil use by, say, 10%. Well, in a few years, demand will have *increased* by 10% (more people, more industry, etc.), so after some short amount of time, you're right back where you started from. The only two long-term solutions are more production and developing alternatives to oil.

In the medium term, say 10 to 20 years, while the alternatives are maturing, we're going to need more production -- that means offshore drilling and ANWR drilling. (Please remember that the oil leases are for exploring land where there *might* be oil -- there's no guarantee that there's actually any oil there.) Other countries manage to drill offshore and in sensitive locations without significant environmental harm -- there's no reason the U. S. can't do so as well.

While it is true, ultimately, that we can't drill our way out of this problem, because there is only so much oil in the world and it will eventually all be gone, NOT drilling isn't going to solve the problem, either. It's a solution for the medium term to bridge us into getting off of oil entirely.

2) wind farms: suppose somebody came up with a way of extracting helium from the atmosphere involving erecting tall towers spread over thousands of acres of countryside. You KNOW that every environmentalist in the country would join a mad rush to the courts to sue the pants off anybody who wanted to do this. But, hey, thousands of tall towers all over creation for *wind energy*? And with huge whirling arms to boot? COOL! And never mind that the huge maintenance burden of all of these mechanical monstrosities makes their electricity much too expensive to be competitive with other forms of generation.

No-compromise environmentalism is one of the most dangerous threats to our economy today.

Terry (astrotrf)

June 20, 2008 11:55 AM Forum: Polls

Drill ANWR

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

Luke Schmidt said:

Writing off conservation just because it is not the final solution does not mean it can't play an important part, even if it is just softening the blow to your own wallet.

I'm not writing off conservation; I'm just saying that it is only a short-term solution because, until the technology changes, demand will increase to overtake conservation.

Drilling offshore and in ANWR certainly won't help us *today*, but it will be a huge help in 10-15 years. The Interior Department states that currently-known recoverable reserves in the banned offshore areas alone amount to about 19 billion barrels of oil. That would provide 2-1/2 *years* of oil for the U. S. At the current price of about $130 per barrel, that's nearly 2-1/2 *trillion* dollars that the U. S. wouldn't have to send to OPEC, but would stay at home in our economy instead. That would have a major impact on the sliding dollar that another poster noted was a big problem for our economy, too.

And the 10 billion barrels expected from ANWR would add over a trillion dollars to that.

The argument about whether drilling would *change* the price of oil is specious. The real point is that we could keep over 3.5 *trillion* dollars in the U. S. economy instead of shipping it overseas, just by drilling for the additional oil we know we have here.


As for wind generation being expensive to maintain, I don't see how what is basically an electric motor used in reverse is so much more complex than then technology required to build an offshore oil rig, or maintaining the complex distillation process for oil refining.

To this, let me just restate the economic argument: you can operate a coal mine, with all of that mechanical equipment, haul the coal over a railroad, build a coal-fired power plant with all of *that* equipment, and STILL produce electricity more cheaply than a wind farm. It's true that a wind generator is essentially an electric motor in reverse, but you just don't get nearly enough electricity from each one to make it economical.

Terry (astrotrf)

June 22, 2008 01:28 PM Forum: Polls

Drill ANWR

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

Well, one thing this should have taught you is that Americans are not going to stop driving their cars, and not going to stop buying vehicles they like, until and unless it becomes economically infeasible to do so. The fact that it was predictable makes the current situation all the more lamentable.

But it happened, and is happening. The real question is "What are we going to *do* about it?" Wringing your hands and saying it shouldn't have happened is not going to contribute to a solution. Deciding "I refuse to even consider drilling our own oil" isn't going to contribute to a solution.

Where is the logic in "OMG, gas is expensive! Don't drill, don't drill, don't drill!"?

The fact is that the United States has access to several trillion dollars of oil at current prices. Even if alternatives to gasoline were available and economically practical, deliberately rejecting the infusion of multiple trillions of dollars is sheer foolishness.

Environmentalism is a nice ideal, as long as it's pursued with some sanity and a willingness to reasonably compromise for the common good. But it's also important to realize that other countries drill offshore and in environmentally sensitive areas with minimal environmental impact -- there's no reason the U. S. cannot do so as well.

Terry (astrotrf)

June 21, 2008 04:23 AM Forum: Polls

Drill ANWR

Posted By Terry Friedrichsen

Regarding conservation: I wholeheartedly agree that a penny saved is a penny earned, but my point remains that increasing demand will overtake any conservation gains, and you'll wind up needed to find more oil anyway.

And yes, we'll just have to disagree about wind. I think the towers are an inexcusable eyesore, and I don't believe the economics will EVER be there. And I still believe that no environmentalist would stand for such towers if they were for any other purpose than an environmentalist pet idea.

I'd willingly put solar panels on my roof if it was cost-effective; but they've been working on bringing the price of that technology down for a long time without much success.

I wish I had an electric or hydrogen car *now*. One of the more interesting things I've seen is a natural-gas-fed unit that produces hydrogen for a hydrogen vehicle and also produces electricity for your home, all in a unit that sits in your garage. This is a slick idea, though I'd personally prefer a practical all-electric vehicle.

Heck, I wasn't even going to *mention* nuclear power, for fear of stirring up hordes of no-nuke nuts. But a technology that produces huge amounts of electricity at the cost of a relatively small amount of buriable byproduct is absolutely the way to go.

Something that nobody seems to think about is the fact that that waste will, in all probability, NEVER have to sit in the ground for millions of years -- long before that, technology will have advanced to the point where it will either become useful for something or there will be an effective way of disposing of it. I'd be willing to bet that it won't be in the ground for anything like even 1,000 years. (Of course, we can't *count* on that, so we still have to design the million-year solution.)

It still makes no sense not to drill our own oil. Even if we could find a way to get along without it, we can sell it to China for several trillion dollars.

Terry (astrotrf)