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A Black Hole Engine That Could Power Spaceships
Artificially generated black holes could provide us with the power to make inter-solar travel a possibility. New research shows how strapping a black hole to your starship might just give you the juice to get to Alpha Centauri.
Louis Crane and Shawn Westmoreland of Kansas State University propose a way to use black holes as fuel that is entirely within the bounds of physics and technology as we know them, but would take phenomenal amount of engineering.
The crux of their idea involves using using a laser to form a micro black hole, which could be used as an energy source. This would be a Schwarzschild, or non-rotating, black hole which outputs Hawking Radiation, and the smaller the black hole, the more energetic.
Of course, making a black hole isn't the world's most easy undertaking. It takes a huge amount of power to build one in the first place. To make one of these mini black holes, Crane and Westmoreland propose a 370km2 solar panel, at an orbit one million km from the surface of the sun, which, if perfectly efficient, would gather enough energy per year to make one black hole. This power would be fed to a spherically converging gamma laser, with a lasing mass of around 10^9 tonnes. However, after you make a few black holes, you can use them as a power source to make more.
According to the authors, a black hole to be used in space travel needs to meet five criteria:
1. has a long enough lifespan to be useful,
2. is powerful enough to accelerate itself up to a reasonable fraction of the speed of light in a reasonable amount of time,
3. is small enough that we can access the energy to make it,
4. is large enough that we can focus the energy to make it,
5. has mass comparable to a starship.
Fortunately, black holes have a sweet spot in terms of size, power and lifespan which is almost ideal. If you take a trip to Alpha Centauri, with an acceleration of 1g to the half way point, and then decelerate at 1g for the remainder of the journey, the trip takes a relativistic 3.5 years. A black hole that would survive the entire trip would have a radius of 0.9 attometers, would have a mass of 606,000 tonnes, and a power output of 160 petawatts. The lifespan of the black hole could be extended by feeding it mass, too.
For longer trips, you could use larger but weaker holes, and smaller and more powerful ones for short trips.
Getting the black hole to act as a power source also requires a bit of work. One potential method involves placing the hole at the focal point of a parabolic reflector attached to the ship, creating forward thrust. A slightly easier, but less efficient method would involve simply absorbing all the gamma radiation heading towards the fore of the ship, and let the rest shoot out the back to push you onwards.
Of course, there are potential problems with Crane and Westmoreland's ideas. According to Govind Menon, Professor of Physics at Troy University, most views on extracting energy from black holes involve using ones that rotate. "With non-rotating black holes, this is a very difficult thing...we typically look for energy almost exclusively from rotating black holes. Schwarzschild black holes do not radiate in an astrophysical, gamma ray burst point of view. It is not clear if Hawking radiation alone can power starships." Menon adds that extracting energy from black holes is highly problematic. "Given [this type] of black hole, it is not clear to me how someone would go about extracting energy."
Another issue is what to do with the black hole when it reaches the end of its life span, as they tend to explode. "Such an explosion is powerful by terrestrial standards, but not by astronomical standards", say Crane and Westmoreland, so it's merely a matter of dropping the black hole around 1 AU away from anything too important, and letting it detonate.
With a set of four machines: black hole generator, black hole drive, power plant, and a self perpetuating black hole powered black hole generator, the potential is enormous. As Crane and Westmoreland say:
A civilization equipped with our four machine tool set would be almost unimaginably energy rich. It could settle the galaxy at will.
In states around the country, there’s a growing movement to address and resist two of the most abused parts of the Constitution – the Commerce Clause and the 2nd Amendment. Already being considered in a number of state legislatures, and passed as law in Montana and Tennessee this year, the Firearms Freedom Act (FFA) is a state law that seeks to do just that.
The latest to join the FFA movement? Kentucky. Pre-filed for the 2010 legislative session, HB87 seeks to “Create new sections of KRS Chapter 237, relating to firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition that are made in Kentucky, marked made in Kentucky, and used in Kentucky, to specify that these items are exempt from federal law”
While the FFA’s title focuses on federal gun regulations, it has far more to do with the 10th Amendment’s limit on the power of the federal government. The bills in state houses contain language such as the following:
“federal laws and regulations do not apply to personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that is manufactured in [this state] and remains in [state]. The limitation on federal law and regulation stated in this bill applies to a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured using basic materials and that can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant parts imported into this state.”
Some supporters of the legislation say that a successful application of such a state-law would set a strong precedent and open the door for states to take their own positions on a wide range of activities that they see as not being authorized to the Federal Government by the Constitution.
The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition. When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.
All across the country, activists and state-legislators are pressing for similar legislation, to nullify specific federal laws within their states.
Supporters say the growth of such a movement is long overdue.
“For far too long elected officials and unelected bureaucrats at the federal level have passively forgotten or actively neglected the Tenth Amendment that guarantees rights not enumerated in the Constitution be left to the individual states,” said Minnesota State Rep. Tom Emmer, who introduced an FFA in his state. “The willful disregard of the Tenth Amendment in relation to a citizen’s right to bear arms isn’t the only constitutional infringement that we should be worried about, but it is one that has been singled out by the new administration.”
“Enough is enough,” urged Tennessee State Senator Mae Beavers. “Our founders fought too hard to ensure states’ sovereignty and I am sick and tired of activist federal officials and judges sticking their noses where they don’t belong.”
In October, the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) filed a lawsuit in federal court in Missoula, MT to validate the principles and terms of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act (MFFA).
“We feel very strongly that the federal government has gone way too far in attempting to regulate a lot of activity that occurs only in-state,” explained MSSA President Gary Marbut. “The Montana Legislature and governor agreed with us by enacting the MFFA. It’s time for Montana and her sister states to take a stand against the bullying federal government, which the Legislature and Governor have done and we are doing with this lawsuit. We welcome the support of many other states that are stepping up to the plate with their own firearms freedom acts.”
Even the most ardent supporters suggest that the real test will come if the federal courts rule against the FFA. Will they give up at that point, or will they follow in the footsteps of medical marijuana activists around the country?
The latter faced down nearly the entire federal apparatus – federal agencies who didn’t recognize state law, countless federal raids and arrests, and a Supreme Court that ruled against their cause in 2005. Even with such stacked odds, they persisted in their state-level efforts, and today, enough states have medical marijuana laws that the federal government is unable (or unwilling) to oppose them.
Only time will tell if gun rights activists have the same courage.
What part of some people do not have the money to eat doesn't this filthy rich arrogant embecile understand?
This is what it's all about people inriching the insurance companies, when the health care scam is all done and said it will be just like the car insurance. It will be law to pay the insurance companies and fines and punishment if you can't.
This is not about health it is about the insurance companies picking the pockets of America.
Report: Blackwater Executives OK'd Bribes After Iraqi Shootings 11/11/2009
Senior executives at the security firm Blackwater Worldwide approved secret payments of $1 million to buy the silence of Iraqi officials after its guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad two years ago, it was reported Wednesday.
Blackwater's then-president Gary Jackson approved the payments in late 2007 as the outcry over the killings grew, according to the New York Times. But company officials who spoke to the newspaper said they did not know who the cash was intended for or whether it was ever delivered.
In September 2007, 17 Iraqis were killed in Nisour Square when guards protecting a convoy of U.S. diplomats opened fire on a crowd. The killings drew harsh criticisms of the role of private contractors in war zones and particularly against Blackwater.
The company changed its name to Xe in February.
An attempt to bribe Iraqi government officials would be illegal under American law.
A spokesman for Xe called the allegations "baseless" and said the company would not comment about former employees. Blackwater's former vice chairman Cofer Black dismissed the Times story, saying that he was "unaware of any plot or guidance for Blackwater to bribe Iraqi officials." Cofer said he met U.S. officials to discuss the best course of action after the incident.
"Blackwater was directed to provide some financial compensation to relatives of those Iraqi victims which embassy officials described as called for by Iraqi custom," Black said in a statement. "During these meetings with embassy officials, Blackwater sought state department leadership in dispensing any such good faith compensation from Blackwater to the victims' relatives as Blackwater was subordinate to the state department as its security contractor."
A senior State Department official told the Times that U.S. diplomats were unaware of any payoffs to Iraqi officials.
Five Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square shooting will face trial on federal manslaughter charges in February. A sixth guard pleaded guilty in December. A number of Iraqi victims are also suing the company.
KBR may have poisoned 100,000 people in Iraq: lawsuit
Defense contractor KBR may have exposed as many as 100,000 people, including US troops, to cancer-causing toxins by burning waste in open-air pits in Iraq, says a series of class-action lawsuits filed against the company.
At least 22 separate lawsuits claiming KBR poisoned American soldiers in Iraq have been combined into a single massive lawsuit that says KBR, which until not long ago was a subsidiary of Halliburton, sought to save money by disposing of toxic waste and incinerating numerous potentially harmful substances in open-air "burn pits."
According to one of the lawsuits (PDF), filed in a federal court in Nashville, KBR burned "tires, lithium batteries ... biohazard materials (including human corpses), medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), paints, solvents, asbestos insulation, items containing pesticides, polyvinyl chloride pipes, animal carcasses, dangerous chemicals, and hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles."
And they did so within plain sight of US troops operating in Iraq, the lawsuit states. "In some instances, the burn pit smoke was so bad that it interfered with the military mission," the Nashville lawsuit states. "For example, the military located at Camp Bucca, a detention facility, had difficulty guarding the facility as a result of the smoke."
The plaintiffs note that the military "did not prevent" KBR from disposing of the waste "in a safe manner that would not have harmed plaintiffs. The military wanted the defendants to solve the burn pit problems."
The lawsuit "claims at least 100,000 people were endangered by the contractors' 'utter indifference to and conscious disregard' of troops' welfare," notes the Courthouse News Service.
At a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on Friday, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said that KBR continues to use burn pits at the US's largest base in Iraq.
“The Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal -- Kellogg, Brown, and Root -- made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke," Dorgan said. "Burn pits are still used at the Balad Airbase in Iraq, which is the largest US base in that country.”
A 2008 report by the Pentagon asserted that "adverse health risks are unlikely" from the burn pits, but that assertion was challenged by retired Lt. Col. Darrin Curtis, a biomedical sciences officer who took some of the air samples used in the report.
“Although I have no hard data, I believe that the burn pits may be responsible for long-term health problems in many individuals,” the Air Force Timesquoted Curtis as saying. “I think we are going to look at a lot of sick people.”
EXPOSURE A 'PRE-EXISTING CONDITION'
The plaintiffs filing the lawsuits say they have suffered from health problems ranging in seriousness from shortness of breath to cancer. Russell Keith, a paramedic from Huntsville, Alabama, told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee his doctors believe his development of Parkinson's disease was triggered by 15 months of daily exposure to the burn pits at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. Another plaintiff claims to have developed kidney disease as a result of exposure.
Former KBR employee Rick Lambeth told the committee: "Since returning home in July, I have suffered from a number of respiratory problems related to the exposure. Now the military will not pay for my medical care. They claim that these conditions ... existed prior to service.”
For its part, KBR says that it has been "improperly named" in the lawsuit, and points the finger at the military.
"There are significant discrepancies between the plaintiffs’ claims in the burn litigation against KBR and the facts on this issue," Heather Browne, director of corporate communications, told the Nashville Post. Browne said that KBR doesn't operate all the burn pits in Iraq; that the Army, and not the company, decides on burn pit locations; and that the Army decides when to fund an incinerator and when to burn waste in the open air.
As official videographer for the U.S. government, Kurt Sonnenfeld was detailed to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, where he spent one month filming 29 tapes: "What I saw at certain moments and in certain places ... is very disturbing!" He never handed them over to the authorities and has been persecuted ever since. Kurt Sonnenfeld lives in exile in Argentina, where he wrote "El Perseguido" (the persecuted). His recently-published book tells the story of his unending nightmare and drives another nail into the coffin of the government’s account of the 9/11 events.
click here for this exclusive interview by The Voltaire Network.
China sent its clearest signal yet that it was ready to allow yuan appreciation after an 18-month hiatus, saying on Wednesday it would consider major currencies, not just the dollar, in guiding the exchange rate.
In its third-quarter monetary policy report, the People’s Bank of China departed from well-worn language on keeping the yuan basically stable at a reasonable and balanced level.” It hinted instead at a shift from an effective dollar peg that has been in place since the middle of last year.
Following the principles of initiative, controllability and gradualism, with reference to international capital flows and changes in major currencies, we will improve the yuan exchange-rate formation mechanism,” the central bank said in a 46-page monetary policy report.
The comments, published just days before a visit to Shanghai and Beijing by U.S. President Barack Obama, set out the possibility of a return to exchange rate appreciation that began with a landmark July 2005 revaluation.
The yuan strengthened by nearly 20 percent against the dollar until concern over the impact of the global financial crisis prompted Beijing to hit the brakes in the middle of last year to protect exporters.
The yuan has been stuck at around 6.83 per dollar ever since, drawing increasing ire from other countries, especially as it has followed the dollar downwards against other currencies.
The dollar has dropped 13 percent against a basket of major currencies including the yen and euro since mid-February.
House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, pictured standing far right, speaks while colleagues Rep. Barbara Lambert, D-Milford and Rep. Jack F. Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, play solitaire Monday night as the House convened to vote on a new budget. (AP)
The guy sitting in the row in front of these two... he's on Facebook, and the guy behind Hennessy is checking out the baseball scores.
These are the folks that can't get the budget out by October 1, Seriously!!!
So, we’ve got a 30-day budget extension. Well, guess what, 30 days from now we will be in the same boat. I guess this makes it easy for the news ‘reporters’ as all they have to do is recycle the same headlines from this week and from 2 years ago. And these yo-yo’s will still be playing SOLITAIRE!!!
Feds move to seize 4 mosques, tower linked to Iran By ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writer Adam Goldman, Associated Press Writer – Thu Nov 12
NEW YORK – Federal prosecutors took steps Thursday to seize four U.S. mosques and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper owned by a nonprofit Muslim organization long suspected of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government.
In what could prove to be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, prosecutors filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets.
The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York City, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100 acres in Virginia; and a 36-story glass office tower in New York.
Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which has been accused by the U.S. government of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb.
A telephone call and e-mail to Iran's U.N. Mission seeking comment were not immediately answered. Nor was a call to the Alavi Foundation.
It is extremely rare for U.S. law enforcement authorities to seize a house of worship, a step fraught with questions about the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
The action against the Shiite Muslim mosques is sure to inflame relations between the U.S. government and American Muslims, many of whom are fearful of a backlash after last week's Fort Hood shooting rampage, blamed on a Muslim American major.
The mosques and the skyscraper will remain open while the forfeiture case works its way through court in what could be a long process. What will happen to them if the government ultimately prevails is unclear. But the government typically sells properties it has seized through forfeiture, and the proceeds are sometimes distributed to crime victims.
Prosecutors said the Alavi Foundation managed the office tower on behalf of the Iranian government and, working with a front company known as Assa Corp., illegally funneled millions in rental income to Iran's state-owned Bank Melli. Bank Melli has been accused by a U.S. Treasury official of providing support for Iran's nuclear program, and it is illegal in the United States to do business with the bank.
The U.S. has long suspected the foundation was an arm of the Iranian government; a 97-page complaint details involvement in foundation business by several top Iranian officials, including the deputy prime minister and ambassadors to the United Nations.
"For two decades, the Alavi Foundation's affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors to the United Nations, in violation of a series of American laws," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
There were no raids Thursday as part of the forfeiture action. The government is simply required to post notices of the civil complaint on the property.
As prosecutors outlined their allegations against Alavi, the Islamic centers and the schools they run carried on with normal activity. The mosques' leaders had no immediate comment.
Parents lined up in their cars to pick up their children at the schools within the Islamic Education Center of Greater Houston and the Islamic Education Center in Rockville, Md. No notices of the forfeiture action were posted at either place as of late Thursday.
At the Islamic Institute of New York, a mosque and school in Queens, two U.S. marshals came to the door and rang the bell repeatedly. The marshals taped a forfeiture notice to the window and left a large document sitting on the ground. After they left a group of men came out of the building and took the document.
The fourth Islamic center marked for seizure is in Carmichael, Calif.
The skyscraper, known as the Piaget building, was erected in the 1970s under the shah of Iran, who was overthrown in 1979. The tenants include law and investment firms and other businesses.
The sleek, modern building, last valued at $570 million to $650 million in 2007, has served as an important source of income for the foundation over the past 36 years. The most recent tax records show the foundation earned $4.5 million from rents in 2007.
Rents collected from the building help fund the centers and other ventures, such as sending educational literature to imprisoned Muslims in the U.S. The foundation has also invested in dozens of mosques around the country and supported Iranian academics at prominent universities.
If federal prosecutors seize the skyscraper, the Alavi Foundation would have almost no way to continue supporting the Islamic centers, which house schools and mosques. That could leave a major void in Shiite communities, and hard feelings toward the FBI, which played a big role in the investigation.
The forfeiture action comes at a tense moment in U.S.-Iranian relations, with the two sides at odds over Iran's nuclear program and its arrest of three American hikers.
But Michael Rubin, an expert on Iran at the American Enterprise Institute, said the timing of the forfeiture action was probably a coincidence, not an effort to influence Iran on those issues.
"Suspicion about the Alavi Foundation transcends three administrations," Rubin said. "It's taken ages dealing with the nuts and bolts of the investigation. It's not the type of investigation which is part of any larger strategy."
Legal scholars said they know of only a few cases in U.S. history in which law enforcement authorities have seized a house of worship. Marc Stern, a religious-liberty expert with the American Jewish Congress, called such cases extremely rare.
The Alavi Foundation is the successor organization to the Pahlavi Foundation, a nonprofit group used by the shah to advance Iran's charitable interests in America. But authorities said its agenda changed after the fall of the shah.
In 2007, the United States accused Bank Melli of providing services to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and put the bank on its list of companies whose assets must be frozen. Washington has imposed sanctions against various other Iranian businesses.
Associated Press writers Samantha Gross in New York City, Juan A. Lozano in Houston, investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York City and AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin in Maryland contributed to this report.