M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

“Synthetic fuel”? We’ve heard this before…

February 6, 2023
MThomas

Not too terribly helpful if you can’t read Japanese, but you can probably figure out which is water and which is “radical water.”

From 11 to 17 January, the Demonstration Business Promotion Team Osaka along with Sustainable Energy Inc. ran trials on a synthetic fuel produced from water and carbon dioxide present in the air. If successful, this could become the first carbon-based and truly carbon-neutral fuel of its kind.

https://soranews24.com/2023/02/02/synthetic-fossil-fuels-made-from-light-water-and-co2-in-the-air-tested-in-osaka/

So basically this company in Osaka did some water 💧 experiments with “radical water” (water whose molecules were subjected to a kind of electrolysis⚡️ to ionize them), then a “seed fuel” (a fossil fuel like kerosene) was added to create synthetic fuel ⛽️ which in turn will create more CO2 that can be used to create more synthetic fuel.

And no, I didn’t have to insert goofy 😜 icons, but I’m on the train right now 🚊 so why not. 😝

Anyway, this all just sounds too good to be true. Surely it’s prohibitively expensive 💴 to constantly electrify water to the point where its unbound electrons can be available to bind with synthetic fuel electrons. Tidal 🌊 generators, wind 💨 turbines, solar sun ☀️ panels, and thermal heat from volcanos 🌋 all seem more likely a source of electricity to power EVs. 🚗

At any rate, there’s been nothing in the news 📰 about this, so I doubt the experiments worked. Or if they did, someone has a vested interest in continuing Japan’s reliance on Middle Eastern, Indonesian, and Russian fossil fuels.

OK I arrived, so I can stop it with the icons 🛑 ✋ for now.

🖖

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s an airplane! It’s…

February 4, 2023
MThomas

A Japanese telescope positioned on top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, captured video of an eerie flying spiral in the night sky on Jan. 18.

In the video, a small bright spot appears and slowly gets brighter and starts to dissipate into a spiral before getting small again and disappearing.

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/japanese-telescope-captures-image-mysterious-180332172.html

In fact, it was the remains of a discarded Falcon 9 booster from the launch of a SpaceX satellite. And it isn’t the first time this has happened. Japanese TV talked about this, too (since it was a Japanese astronomy, at the Subaru Telescope, that first recorded it).

So, an Identified Flying Object!

Yay, more metallic junk.

(Thanks to Glen Hill for bringing this article to my attention.)

“It clearly was not Cowboy Bebop”

January 30, 2023
MThomas

It started with a scene in a casino, which made it very tough for me to continue. I stopped there and so only saw that opening scene.

https://soranews24.com/2023/01/28/cowboy-bebop-anime-creator-was-disappointed-with-the-netflix-version-from-the-first-scene-he-saw/

Well, I managed to watch the first two episodes, but I really couldn’t continue after that.

Watanabe is right. Netflix screwed up by doing what all US-based companies do when they try to make scifi: they focus on the violence and forget about the ambiance.

But as he says at the end of the interview, “The value of the original anime is somehow far higher now.”

(Read the original interview in its entirety here, if you can stomach the political pop-ups.)

Goodbye, Musk, and good riddance.

November 21, 2022
MThomas

If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably noticed the “has over 1,200 followers” tag suddenly dropped to just over 200.

That’s because I deactivated my Twitter account.

I debated for a couple of weeks.

And then saw how its Chief Twit (seriously, this is how this psychopath called himself) treated his workers.

100+ hour work weeks? Haphazardly firing pregnant single moms? Reinstating Der DrumpfenFührer?

Enough.

Twitter is run by a narcissistic, megalomaniacal bully with delusions of grandeur, and I will have nothing to do with any company that supports him or is run by him.

“But…” the plaintiff cry “where will we get our news??”

Um.

Try an actual news organization.

An aggregator works just fine.

Here’s a primer:

https://www.lifewire.com/best-news-aggregators-4584410

(FWIW, Flipboard is my current fav, but my friends often rely on Google News and Apple News (if you have Apple devices, of course. And for the standard no-nonsense and no-frills approach, AP).

Anyway, I’m happy to be followed by 200+ WordPress fans.

Don’t worry. Science is still science. And naturally there is science fiction on the way.

I just need time to write it!

10 Cheesy Sci-Fi Movies That Deserve Remakes | Screen Rant

November 25, 2021
MThomas

Between a hated Marvel movie, a quarterback in space, and ‘the worst movie ever made,’ there are so many sci-fi flicks just waiting to be rebooted.
— Read on screenrant.com/cheesy-science-fiction-movies-that-deserve-remakes-reboots/

I agree with some and totally disagree with others.

A remake of Flash Gordon?

🙆‍♂️ Sure! (The original is campy, but the comic strip it’s based on was fairly dramatic.)

Logan’s Run?

🤔 Would make a much better series than a one-off (a movie remake is currently in “development hell”).

Howard the Duck?

🤢🤦‍♂️

Are you kidding? 🙅

What do you all think?

No, Leonardo has no “descendants”

July 18, 2021
MThomas

The news spread quickly last week.

Fourteen people alive today in Italy can claim that they are descendants of Leonardo da Vinci, according to a study of the Renaissance genius’ family tree.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/fourteen-living-descendants-leonardo-da-vinci-are-identified-rcna1402

I won’t bother posting the other two to three dozen “news” about it, since they all pretty much copy each other without doing much (or any) actual journalistic research.

Nor do they use common sense.

In the paragraph following the one quoted above, this sentence appears:

Researchers traced da Vinci’s genealogy over nearly 700 years and 21 generations, from 1331 to the present day, beginning with da Vinci’s great-great-great grandfather Michele.

OK. So this is family genealogy, not just Leonardo, right?

That would explain why so many people were found. But they’re his relatives, not descendants.

Da Vinci, best known for painting “The Last Supper” and “The Mona Lisa,” had no children, but his blood relatives include 22 half siblings.

If he had no children (which is true), then he has no descendants.

Simple.

Yet another case of media happily exaggerating studies they don’t understand but are eager to exploit.

Also, Leonardo always signed his name “Leonardo di Ser Piero” or “di Piero.” Vinci is a small town near where he was born. (People at that time period in Europe didn’t have surnames in the modern sense.) So saying the research is about the “da Vinci family” makes little sense. Nor does the idea that “genius” runs in families. The famous Edison dictum applies here.

I’m also fairly certain Leonardo had 12, and not “22,” half-siblings. Ser Piero was a bit indiscrete but not that indiscrete. He was a notary, not a king.

Automated killer machines? Here already, but not what you think

June 5, 2021
MThomas

Diving into the topic doesn’t reveal that the world quietly experienced the opening salvos of the Terminator timeline in 2020. But it does point to a more prosaic and perhaps much more depressing truth: that no one can agree on what a killer robot is, and if we wait for this to happen, their presence in war will have long been normalized. It’s cheery stuff, isn’t it? It’ll take your mind off the global pandemic at least.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/3/22462840/killer-robot-autonomous-drone-attack-libya-un-report-context

Actually, the truly scary “killer robots” would be much less like Terminator and more like the self-replicating ones in PDK’s “Second Variety” (or Screamers for those who haven’t read the original short…my recommendation? forget the B movie, read the story).

But there are already plenty of “semi-automated” machines that kill. It’s relatively easy to program a device to wait until someone approaches, and then shoot/radiate/explode. Strictly speaking, even basic landmines fit this definition.

What would help is the media stopping sensationalistic yellow journalism that throws around fear-mongering hyped-up headlines to sell copy.

Yeah, right. Like that’ll happen any time soon.

Machines killing without a human operator? Already here.

Machines seeking out and killing humans without pre-programmed responses and of their own accord?

We’re a long way away from that.

For now.

Maybe we just need to take away their control stones…
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