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Full With Noise: Theory and Japanese Noise Music
by Paul Hegarty.......... "Full with Noise,..." is about noise music, specifically the version that has come to be called Japanese Noise -- itself composed of many different strands. The first half deals with the question of noise. What is it, whose is it, and how can we think about it. Also, how does noise inflect our thinking, rather than being an object; at what point does noise lose its noiseness and become meaning, music, signification? Or -- is there even a point where noise can subsist? Mostly, the text below takes the view that noise is a function of not-noise, itself a function of not being noise. Noise is no more original than music or meaning, and yet its position is to indicate the banished, overcome primordiality, and cannot lose this 'meaning'. Noise, then, is neither the outside of language nor music, nor is it simply categorisable, at some point or other, as belonging exclusively to the world of meaning, understanding, truth and knowledge. Read More ...
Dirty HC Punk explosion - Bristol scene Rise up + Disorder 9 free CDs
From The Cortinas to Lunatic Fringe and Disorder, Bristol had a huge Punk scene that has influenced, affected and stimulated a vast range of artists that operate in the city. Many of these artists produce music that wouldn’t necessarily suggest a Punk heritage but scratch beneath the surface of a lot of the major players in the Bristol milieu and you will find a fondness for the times of `spikey barnets’, limited musical ability, a `F*** You’ attitude and disrespect for the music industry and its poseur hierarchy. Read More ...
Dinosaur Jr.
Beyond + 17 albums free download
A straight shot west out of Boston on I-90 will carry you, in two hours or less, to Western Massachusetts, where the country still looks like it did twenty or even 40 years ago: college towns, I-91 tracing the same lazy ladder from Springfield up through Holyoke and Northampton, Amherst and Deerfield. Out there it's taken for granted that the houses will be drafty, the winters uniformly long, and that, on any given trip to the local supermarket, one might spot Thurston or Lou or Kim or J, on-and-off locals for more than twenty years. {audio}{/audio} ... Drawerings Read More ...
Leon Theremin /1896-1993/ - the great forefather of Rock N' Roll /big noise master/
In 1919, in the midst of the Russian Civil War, Theremin invented the musical instrument that bears his name. The theremin is an electronic device that resonates sound when its operator waves his hands near its two antennas. It was the first musical instrument designed to be played without being touched. He invented the theremin (also called the thereminvox) in 1919, when his country was in the midst of the Russian Civil War. After a lengthy tour of Europe, during which he demonstrated his invention to full audiences, Theremin found his way to the United States. He performed the theremin with the New York Philharmonic in 1928. He patented his invention in 1929 (U.S. Patent 1,661,058 ) and subsequently granted commercial production rights to RCA. In 1938 Theremin was kidnapped in the New York apartment he shared with his American wife (the black ballet dancer, Iavana Williams) by the NKVD (forerunners of the KGB). He was transported back to Russia, and accused of propagating anti-Soviet propaganda by Stalin. Read More ...
Animal Collective
Album: Fall Be Kind + 9 albums free download
By way of decrying a society that left its citizens unbearably restrained, Edith Wharton describes how in New York in the 1870s, women would order dresses from their Paris dressmakers and then leave them in tissue paper at least two years before wearing them in public; the thought of showing them "in advance of the fashion" was unforgivably vulgar. Social life has changed, but cultural life seems just as restricted now – even Animal Collective are held back by trends that seem a couple of years old (and that they helped to invent). When I think back on 2009, I’ll first remember how our impoverished aesthetic generation repeatedly scraped the resin from the cultural trash barrel. Every second person is wearing neon leggings, and the ones who aren’t rock a ‘70s aesthetic, with high-waisted jeans and moccasins. Christmas sweaters are getting impossible to find at the thrift store. Ska revival. Garage rock revival. It never ends. Read More ...
For just over 10 years, London's Guapo has been working in the world of avant and progressive rock. The band's past is a bit hard to track with its numerous lineup changes and guest musicians. The most recent change in roster was the resignation of Matthew Thompson, the founding member of Guapo, which occurred just before the release of 2005's Black Oni. The departure of Thompson has left Guapo with percussionist David Smith and multi-instrumentalist Daniel O'Sullivan. Though O'Sullivan is by no means a founding member of the band, but he was essential in honing the sound on Guapo's last two LPs: Five Suns and Black Oni. These two albums have been pivotal in building Guapo's following of fans, so it's hard not to credit O'Sullivan as an asset to the band.... {audio} {/audio} ... The Selenotrope Read More ...
The Swans - THIS IS NOT A REUNION - Message From Gira + free discography download (20 CDs)
Michael Gira's re-activated Swans will be undertaking their first U.S. performances in 13 years, celebrating the Fall release of the first new Swans album since Soundtracks For The Blind (1997). The album was recorded by Jason LeFarge at Seizure's Palace in Brooklyn and is currently be remixed by Gira with Bryce Goggin (Antony & The Johnsons, Akron/Family) at Trout Recordings. Read More ...
New Zealand Psychedelic Noise scene + 6 free CDs
For a small country New Zealand has long been pumping out some impressive music. Way back in the 1960s it was crazed long-haired punkers messed up on all sorts of stuff - musical (the Pretty Things, Love, the 13th Floor Elevators, the Troggs and who-knows-what-else) and I guess otherwise. Some of the best of these bands (at least, the ones that recorded) can be heard on Wild Things vol 1 and 2, compiled by NZ music historian John Baker, the first of which came out on Flying Nun, the second probably on Baker's own Zero Records, also the home to No. 8 Wire: Psychedelia Without Drugs. Read More ...


Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet
The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it’s Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence. McConnell’s not dangerous because he knows anything about SQL injection hacks, but because he knows about social engineering. He’s the nice-seeming guy who’s willing and able to use fear-mongering to manipulate the federal bureaucracy for his own ends, while coming off like a straight shooter to those who are not in the know. When he was head of the country’s national intelligence, he scared President Bush with visions of e-doom, prompting the president to sign a comprehensive secret order that unleashed tens of billions of dollars into the military’s black budget so they could start making firewalls and building malware into military equipment. Read More ...
The Peyote Way Church of God - believe that the Holy Sacrament Peyote can lead an individual toward a more spiritual life
The Peyote Way Church of God is a non-sectarian, multicultural, experiential, Peyotist organization located in southeastern Arizona, in the remote Aravaipa wilderness. It is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Native American Church, or any other religious organizations, though we do accept people from all faiths. Church membership is open to all races. We encourage individuals to create their own rituals as they become acquainted with the great mystery. We believe that the Holy Sacrament Peyote, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle (see Word of Wisdom), can lead an individual toward a more spiritual life. Peyote is currently listed as a controlled substance and its religious use is protected by Federal law only for Native American members of the Native American Church. Read More ...
All world secret underground bases build for space travelers
The following material comes from people who know the Dulce (underground) base exists. They are people who worked in the labs; abductees taken to the base; people who assisted in the construction; intelligence personal (NSA,CIA,FBI ... ect.) and UFO / inner-earth researchers. This information is meant for those who are seriously interested in the dulce base. for your own protection be advised to “use caution” while investigating this complex.Does a strange world exist beneath our feet? Strange legends have persisted for centuries about the mysterious cavern world and the equally strange beings who inhabit it.  More UFOlogists have considered the possibility that UFOs may be emanating from subterranean bases, that UFO aliens have constructed these bases to carry out various missions involving Earth or humans. Read More ...
Dreamachine - stroboscopic flicker device enter you to a hypnagogic state - try it right here in your browser
The dreamachine (or dream machine) is a stroboscopic  flicker device that produces visual stimuli. Artist Brion Gysin and William Burroughs's "systems adviser" Ian Sommerville created the dreamachine after reading William Grey Walter's book, The Living Brain. In its original form, a dreamachine is made from a cylinder with slits cut in the sides. The cylinder is placed on a record turntable and rotated at 78 or 45 revolutions per minute. A light bulb is suspended in the center of the cylinder and the rotation speed allows the light to come out from the holes at a constant frequency of between 8 and 13 pulses per second. This frequency range corresponds to alpha waves, electrical oscillations  normally present in the human brain while relaxing. Read More ...
Japan’s Annual Penis Festival – Celebrates Fertility
KOMAKI, Japan — It's springtime in Japan and that means one thing. Actually, two things. Penis festivals and vagina festivals. It may sound like a sophomoric gag. But these are folk rites going back at least 1,500 years, into Japan's agricultural past. They're held to ensure a good harvest and promote baby-making. Maybe they should hold more such festivals. Japan has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.37 children per woman), which experts blame on stagnant incomes and changing gender relations. Read More ...
Rarest Fishes in the World
Aquatic Lifeforms You Never Caught While Fishing:
Black-lip Rattail ............ These sorts of rattails feed in the muddy seafloor by gliding along head down and tail up, powered by gentle undulations of a long fin under the tail. The triangular head has sensory cells underneath that help detect animals buried in the mud or sand. The common name comes from the black edges around the mouth. Read More ...
Island of Ghosts: Hashima Island - Japan’s rotting metropolis
Hashima, an island located in Nagasaki Bay, is better known as Warship Island (Gunkanshima). The island was inhabited until the end of the 19th century, when it was discovered that the ground below it held tons of coal. The island soon became a center of a major mining complex owned by Mitsubishi Corporation. As the complex expanded, rock brought out of the shafts was used to artificially expand the island. Seawalls created in this expansion turned Hashima into the monstrous looking Gunkanshima; its artificial appearance makes it looks more like a battleship than an island. Read More ...
Japan Monster mummies - the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu, raijū, and human monks
These fairly freaky historical remains can be found lurking in dark corners of Buddhist temples and museums across Japan. Known as monster mummies, they are, in fact, the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu and raijū. Or should I say things that people thought were demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu and raijū. They are not pretty, but they are really fascinating. Read More ...


The Marijuana Conspiracy - The Real Reason Hemp is Illegal
MARIJUANA is DANGEROUS. Pot is NOT harmful to the human body or mind. Marijuana does NOT pose a threat to the general public. Marijuana is very much a danger to the oil companies, alcohol, tobacco industries and a large number of chemical corporations. Various big businesses, with plenty of dollars and influence, have suppressed the truth from the people. The truth is if marijuana was utilized for its vast array of commercial products, it would create an industrial atomic bomb! Entrepreneurs have not been educated on the product potential of pot. The super rich have conspired to spread misinformation about an extremely versatile plant that, if used properly, would ruin their companies. Read More ...
Freegan - strategies for sustainable living beyond capitalism
Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed. After years of trying to boycott products from unethical corporations responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse, many of us found that no matter what we bought we ended up supporting something deplorable. We came to realize that the problem isn’t just a few bad corporations but the entire system itself. Read More ...
The woman power era is coming - The End of Men!?
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences Read More ...
Libya Truth Tour
Cynthia McKinney ..... Thanks to all who have come out and participated in the Truth Tour.  I have almost come to its end.  Last night in Detroit, several of the women were moved to tears as I explained the situation in Libya right now as I know it to be. Every venue has had every seat occupied or was filled to capacity with standing room only.  Detroit's young singer and band, Sister Ziyah and Black Rain were phenomenal and their music set the tone for the event:  first song, Kickstart the Revolution; second song, Good Morning, America; third song, Today, I'm a Better Me. Read More ...
Victorian England popular&legal drugs (hashish, opium, absinthe and Chloral)
Victorian England, spanning roughly the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), is characterized in popular understanding as a time of personal and family values. The codification of the notion of values developed into specific and detailed ideas about social and cultural propriety and restraint. The very term "Victorian" has come to be used in our own time by cultural conservatives who look to the reign of Victoria as a touchstone for their own desires about social order. Prudishness, excessive formality, and repression, it is popularly assumed, characterized Victorian culture. Read More ...
Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent
Not so long ago experts predicted the imminent collapse of religion in modern western culture. Religion – often synonymous in these discussions with superstition, magic, and delusion – would at last give way to the autonomy of human reason and the power of the experimental method of natural investigation. But something happened on the way to religion’s funeral. People kept on believing. Recent neuroscientific and evolutionary research has suggested that either many of the hallmarks of religion are, or are byproducts of, adaptations that helped our earliest ancestors survive. Read More ...
Punk explosion against cenzorship in Indonesia + film -punk in love indonesia
It's after midnight in Jakarta and, below a highway overpass, a party is just getting started. Students and the unemployed are listening to well-worn cassette tapes, swigging from bottles filled with a cocktail of beer and local wine and loitering in front of Movement Records — a punk-music shop that has become a nexus for local youths. It is also home to Onie, one of Jakarta's self-proclaimed original street punks, who both works and sleeps on the premises. "It is very quiet at night," Onie says. "The shops are closed, so society is O.K. with us being here. My friends can come at night and argue, laugh and fight for as long as they want." Read More ...
Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple
A temple complex in Turkey that predates even the pyramids is rewriting the story of human evolution. They call it potbelly hill, after the soft, round contour of this final lookout in southeastern Turkey. To the north are forested mountains. East of the hill lies the biblical plain of Harran, and to the south is the Syrian border, visible 20 miles away, pointing toward the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, the region that gave rise to human civilization. And under our feet, according to archeologist Klaus Schmidt, are the stones that mark the spot—the exact spot—where humans began that ascent. Read More ...


The World's First Commercial Brain-Computer Interface + history of BCI
A brain–computer interface (BCI), sometimes called a direct neural interface or a brain–machine interface, is a direct communication pathway between a brain and an external device. BCIs are often aimed at assisting, augmenting or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions. Research on BCIs began in the 1970s at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) under a grant from the National Science Foundation, followed by a contract from DARPA. The papers published after this research also mark the first appearance of the expression brain–computer interface in scientific literature. Read More ...
Meet ALICE - new CERNs giant detector
The giant ALICE detector is already underway at CERN, and researchers are scrambling to add an electromagnetic calorimeter to capture jet-quenching, the newest way to look inside the quark-gluon plasma — the hot, dense state of matter that filled the earliest universe, which the Large Hadron Collider will soon recreate by slamming lead nuclei into one another.  CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is known mainly as the accelerator that will soon begin searching for the Higgs particle, and other new physics, in proton collisions at unprecedented energies — up to 14 TeV (14 trillion electron volts) at the center of mass — and with unprecedented beam intensities. But the same machine will also collide massive nuclei, specifically lead ions, to energies never achieved before in the laboratory. Read More ...
Vadim Chernobrov & Russian secrets experiments with time machines
A disturbing story in the March, 2005. 1 issue of Pravda suggests that the U. S. Government is working on the discovery of a mysterious point over the South Pole that may be a passageway backward in time. According to the article, some American and British scientists working in Antarctica on January 27, 1995, noticed a spinning gray fog in the sky over the pole. U. S. physicist Mariann McLein said at first they believed it to be some kind of sandstorm. But after a while they noticed that the fog did not change its form and did not move so they decided to investigate. Read More ...
The Secrets of Coral Castle and pyramids EXPLAINED by Leedskalnin's Magnetic Current theory
Coral Castle doesn't look much like a castle, but that hasn't discouraged generations of tourists from wanting to see it. That's because it was built by one man, Ed Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant who single-handedly and mysteriously excavated, carved, and erected over 2.2 million pounds of coral rock to build this place, even though he stood only five feet tall and weighed a mere 100 pounds. Ed was as secretive as he was misguided. He never told anyone how he carved and set into place the walls, gates, monoliths, and moon crescents that make up much of his Castle. Some of these blocks weigh as much as 30 tons. Ed often worked at night, by lantern light, so that no one could see him. He used only tools that he fashioned himself from wrecks in an auto junkyard. Read More ...
Microbial communities in fluid inclusions and long-term survival in halite + The 11th Hour - documentary
Fluid inclusions in modern and ancient buried halite from Death Valley and Saline Valley, California, USA, contain an ecosystem of “salt-loving” (halophilic) prokaryotes and eukaryotes, some of which are alive. Prokaryotes may survive inside fluid inclusions for tens of thousands of years using carbon and other metabolites supplied by the trapped microbial community, most notably the single-celled alga Dunaliella, an important primary producer in hypersaline systems. Deeper understanding of the long-term survival of prokaryotes in fluid inclusions will complement studies that further explore microbial life on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system, where materials that potentially harbor microorganisms are millions and even billions of years old. Read More ...
How Norbert Wiener Invents Cybernetics + his book " God and Golem, Inc.........."
Norbert Wiener invented the field of cybernetics, inspiring a generation of scientists to think of computer technology as a means to extend human capabilities. Norbert Wiener was born on November 26, 1894, and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 18 for a thesis on mathematical logic ( see below "The Logic of Boolean Algebra").  After working as a journalist, university teacher, engineer, and writer, Wiener he was hired by MIT in 1919, coincidentally the same year as Vannevar Bush. In 1933, Wiener won the Bôcher Prize for his brilliant work on Tauberian theorems and generalized harmonic analysis. Read More ...
The T2K Experiment - From Tokai To Kamioka - Where is the anti-matter?
From the beginning of 2010, the T2K experiment will fire a beam of muon-neutrinos from Tokai on Japan's east coast, 300km accross the country to a detector at Kamioka. It hopes to investigate the phenomenon of "neutrino oscillations" by looking for "muon neutrinos" oscillating into "electron neutrinos".  A million pound detector has been built at the University of Warwick as part of a vital experiment to investigate fundamental particles - neutrinos. Read More ...
Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military leadership
The internal workings of the US military had little significance to the overall state of the nation, except during wars – until the post-WWII era.   With the military dominating our foreign policy and being one of the most trusted institution, the character of our senior generals may become a major factor shaping our future.  Hence the importance of this chapter by GI Wilson from The Pentagon Labyrinth: Ten Short Essays to Help You Through It, edited by Winslow T. Wheeler and published by the Center for Defense Information and the World Security Institute.  You can see a summary and download a free copy of this important book at the Project for Government Oversight (POGO). Read More ...

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Project Icarus: Gas Mining on Uranus

Project Icarus is a 21st century theoretical study of a mission to another star. Icarus aims to build on the work of the celebrated Daedalus project. Between the period 1973-1978 members of the BIS undertook a theoretical study of a flyby mission to Barnard's star 5.9 light years away. This was Project Daedalus and remains one of the most complete studies of an interstellar probe to date. The 54,000 ton two-stage vehicle was powered by inertial confinement fusion using electron beams to compress the D/He3 fusion capsules to ignition. It would obtain an eventual cruise velocity of 36,000km/s or 12% of light speed from over 700kN of thrust, burning at a specific impulse of 1 million seconds, reaching its destination in approximately 50 years.

The terms of reference for Project Icarus are:


  • 1.     To design an unmanned probe that is capable of delivering useful scientific data about the target star, associated planetary bodies, solar environment and the interstellar medium.
  • 2.     The spacecraft must use current or near future technology and be designed to be launched as soon as is credibly determined.
  • 3.     The spacecraft must reach its stellar destination within as fast a time as possible, not exceeding a century and ideally much sooner.
  • 4.     The spacecraft must be designed to allow for a variety of target stars.
  • 5.     The spacecraft propulsion must be mainly fusion based (i.e. Daedalus).
  • 6.     The spacecraft mission must be designed so as to allow some deceleration for increased encounter time at the destination.

Adam Crowl, Module Lead for Fuel and Fuel Acquisition for Project Icarus, investigates the pros and cons of various fusion fuels required to accelerate an interstellar vehicle to a nearby star.

One might think that fusion propulsion requires some exotic fuel to propel a rocket a million-or-so-times more energetically than standard chemical fuels. However, one fusion fuel option isn't so exotic.

In fact, by drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water per day you've ingested about half a pound of the stuff: hydrogen. One-ninth of all water on Earth is hydrogen. But there's a snag in its widespread adoption as a fusion fuel.

Regular hydrogen fuses very, very slowly even in a place as unimaginably hot as the center of the sun. That's fortunate for all life on Earth -- because that's what allows stars to shine for billions of years -- but it does make it a very difficult fusion fuel to utilize.

But there's an answer: Add a neutron to the single proton in the heart of every hydrogen atom and you have deuterium, also known as "heavy hydrogen."

Deuterium is incredibly easy to fuse compared to hydrogen and most of the sun's energy actually comes from fusing it. Inside the sun, deuterium is continuously made by banging two protons (hydrogen nuclei) together fast enough for one to become a neutron and stick to the other, and once made it fuses with another deuterium in less than a second.

Thus, no deuterium accumulates in the sun and in the rest of the natural world it's relatively rare -- 1 in every 6,500 atoms of the hydrogen we drink is deuterium. However, because deuterium, in so-called "Heavy-Water," is used to moderate neutrons in some nuclear reactor designs, it is separated from regular water on a large scale.
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Pure deuterium can already be fused by technological means and was used in the first hydrogen bomb detonated in 1952, but fusing it with tritium (hydrogen with two neutrons, so it's heavier than deuterium) is even easier and this is the preferred reaction used by fusion research today.

Unfortunately, if this method was used to fuel a starship -- such as the Icarus interstellar vehicle -- the deuterium-tritium (D-T) reaction produces high-energy neutrons that transfer heat from the reaction directly to the engine's structure. About 80 percent of the fusion energy released is in the form of those neutrons, so the reaction isn't very healthy (or useful) for a starship.

Pure deuterium reactions also produce neutrons, though only about 1/3 of the fusion energy is released as such. That's better than the D-T reaction, but when we're talking about engine powers in the hundreds of gigawatts to terawatts, then such percentages mean gigawatts of heat that must be gotten rid of, adding to the mass of the engines and degrading the overall performance.


Seeking Helium-3

Fusion physics knows of other reactions. The reaction of boron-11 (an isotope of boron) and plain hydrogen produces all its energy in the form of charged particles which can be directed by a magnetic field, but the reaction is very difficult to sustain and many fusion physicists doubt it will ever prove practical. If it was successfully demonstrated as a viable fuel option, then the fuel mixture could be stored in solid form as decaborane, which remains solid below 100 degrees Celsius.

However, there is a very attractive reaction between deuterium and a light isotope of helium known as helium-3. Helium-3 has one less neutron than regular helium (helium-4) and is also produced in the sun and almost as quickly consumed in fusion reactions as deuterium.

Like deuterium, it is rare relative to helium-4, but, unlike hydrogen, helium doesn't form chemical compounds as abundant as water. Almost all Earth's helium has long since blown away and only small amounts are available on the planet -- much of it can be found in the gas mines of North America. What helium is available is depleted in helium-3 relative to what we see in the sun, because most of Earth's helium-4 is freshly made via natural radioactive decay of the elements uranium and thorium.

We know the sun contains lots of helium, and as the solar wind has been depositing helium into the rocky surface of the moon, perhaps we can extract it. Just how much is available can presently only be estimated at somewhere between 1 million and 2.5 million tons.

To extract it would require digging up much of the moon's upper few feet of soil and baking the soil to release the solar wind-implanted gases. Project Icarus Consultant, Bob Parkinson, has examined this resource and, surprisingly, concluded it might take more energy to extract than would be produced by fusing the helium-3 liberated.

The Gas Mines of Uranus

However, there is a surprising amount of helium-3 in the gas giant planets of the outer solar system, and in the original 1978 "Project Daedalus" report Bob Parkinson suggested mining it via floating robotic factories in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Since then a different planet has moved to the forefront of gas-mining plans because it lacks Jupiter's intense gravity, Saturn's gigantic rings of orbital debris and is closer than distant Neptune.

You guessed it; the best helium-3 supply in the solar system is from the "Gas Mines" of Uranus.

That the planet which is the butt of so many poor jokes should be relatively rich in methane as well is purely coincidental, but as a mining site it has several advantages. The surface gravity, which is defined from the 1 bar pressure level in a gas giant's atmosphere, is 90 percent that of Earth's and the speed needed to reach low orbit is lowest of all the gas planets. Uranus's rings are also high, thin and not showering the atmosphere below with a hail of meteors, unlike Saturn's.

Accessing the gas riches of Uranus will require nuclear power, however. Designs exist for nuclear powered ramjets that could fly indefinitely in the atmospheres of the gas giants -- this might prove a viable means of keeping an extraction factory aloft. Else we'll be back to using balloons like "Project Daedalus," serviced by nuclear ramjets.

An atmosphere composed of a cold gas mix that is lighter than helium and not much heavier than hydrogen, means that hot-air ballooning will need to be used. That the oldest technology of flight will find a role supporting the latest, fusion propulsion, has a certain poetic justice.
Getting the fuel home, where it can be used domestically as well as for tanking-up starships, could provide an early pay-off for developing a fusion propelled starship.

A Helium Market

The original "Daedalus" starprobe design had two stages. A Stage Two, by itself, would be well suited to being a deep space freighter, able to carry payloads of up to 500 tons at very high speed. Uranus is nearly three billion kilometers from the sun and Earth, thus traveling there, and back, requires a high-speed vehicle.

A Stage Two freighter could carry itself, with an empty mass of 500 tons, to Uranus in 70 days for just 114 tons of fuel, and then bring back a load of 614 tons using about 254 tons of fuel. Of the return load, 114 tons would be used to return the empty tanker to Uranus, while 500 tons would be used for starships and the terrestrial energy market.

A starprobe might launch by the year 2100 and if world energy demands continue to increase at their historic rate of 2.5 percent, then by 2100 about 14,000 tons of deuterium/helium-3 fuel-mix would supply the world's energy demand per year, adding an incentive to develop the gas-mines of Uranus.

Alternatively, a means might be found to put the neutrons from pure deuterium fusion to good use. Some fusion ignition designs can confine the fusion neutrons in the dense plasma formed by the reaction, sharing their energy with the rest of the fusion plasma, thus reducing the damage to the reactor walls. If such a design can be successfully used for a starship engine, then a source of deuterium can be sought closer to home.

Unlike helium-3 we know the moon has large amounts of hydrogen, as ice, and a significant fraction of it will be deuterium. The moon's low gravity also means that water composed of regular hydrogen and oxygen will escape quicker than heavy water, perhaps leading to a concentration of deuterium in the water of the moon. We won't know until we return to the moon for a closer look.

Icarus Construction

The spacecraft construction would necessarily take place in space. If constructed in low-Earth orbit (LEO), we would most likely need a high thrust chemical propulsion system, and ideally a reliable single-stage-to-orbit solution, such as SKYLON or perhaps a revised program for mass production of launch vehicles.

A large scale space-based infrastructure would then be needed, which would most likely use a wide range of solar powered systems.

This orbiting shipyard might look like a fabrication ring capable of moving around the spacecraft (pictured above), with a number of remote manipulators working on sections of it at a time.

The engineers may be operating the manipulators safely from Earth, working in shifts around the clock and from around the world. The sheer size of the orbiting shipyard would make it suitable for visits, effectively making the Icarus construction a tourist attraction:

Navigation and Trajectory Insertion

Attitude control and navigation are of particular importance inside our solar system, where the initial Icarus interstellar trajectory insertion would take place.
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An orbital insertion trajectory called the Oberth maneuver, has the spacecraft dip towards the sun and then quickly power outwards, in a move reminiscent to an orbital slingshot. In this case however, the benefit comes from using up as much of the fuel as possible deep inside the gravitational field of the sun, which saves energy because that same amount doesn't need to be carried it up and out of the gravity well.

This move also brings the spacecraft very close to the sun, which gives us an opportunity to use a solar sail to either supplement the main engine, or to assist in trajectory insertion.

Interstellar Operations

The Icarus may suffer malfunctions that would need to be repaired from time to time.

The Daedalus team decided to deal with on-board repairs by using a type of mobile repair robot, they called "Wardens," as they were made to survey and patrol the spacecraft.

If Team Icarus makes the decision to use something similar, these robots will also require a means of propulsion for locomotion. This would most likely be a form of electro-thermal pulsed plasma thruster, which is capable of micro-newton performance, giving the bots the ability to position themselves very accurately.

An alternative is to use a "repair rail" with robotic manipulators, inspired from the Canadarm which has served on board the Space Shuttle (Canadarm 1) and ISS (Canadarm 2) for almost 30 years (without single event failure).

While the Icarus is on route to the target star, there are still numerous tasks required of the secondary propulsion systems. The fuel tanks, for instance, would be dropped as they are depleted, after which trajectory corrections are to be expected.

Fuel Tanks as Relays

The use of these dropped fuel tanks as communications relays has been proposed to assist in maintaining a robust communications link with Earth. These parabolic, clam-shelled fuel tanks could split open to reveal two telecommunications dishes, one pointing at the Icarus, while the other back at Earth.
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These relays would be, for the most part, free-flying with whatever velocity and direction they had when they were released. To allow them to point towards the Icarus and the Earth, they would require some accurate method of orientation. In this particular case, a Radioisotope Thermal Generator (RTG) powered flywheel fits the bill quite well, as both of these systems can be used for long term operation.

Deceleration Options on Arrival at Target Star

There is a current push in observational astronomy to determine if there are any Earth-like planets in our solar neighborhood.

The Icarus target definition has remained open for precisely this reason, where on discovery of an Earth-like planet within 15 light-years, it will almost certainly become our target star.

In order to carefully study the planets and moons of the target system, the Icarus would need to explore several deceleration options, which may allow the spacecraft to at least spend more time in the target system, if not fully decelerate.

We essentially have two alternatives. We can either decelerate the entire Icarus spacecraft mainly using reverse main engine thrust, or we can decelerate the individual probes using a combination of magsails, solar sails and perhaps nuclear rockets. This task is complicated by the fact that we would need to first survey the target solar system and acquire reliable orbital information for the planets or moons of interest.

What are then the requirements for maximizing the scientific data return from the probes, and what demands does this place on the probe propulsion systems?

Planetary Science Probes

Let's assume full deceleration at the target star has been achieved and planetary orbit information has been processed and assigned to a number of science probes.

By that time, near-Earth telescopes would be sufficiently advanced to verify and inform the Icarus computers on which scientific objectives are most desirable. As might be expected, there will be an incredible amount of "feature creep" at this stage, where scientists will be arguing over which objectives should take priority over others, while the probe power and propulsion systems last.

Essentially this means a solar powered propulsion system would be needed. Solar thermal engines require a reaction mass (usually Hydrogen) for propellant that, however, will have to be carried along and stored safely for the duration of the interstellar journey.

Solar electric engines could be used, especially if combined with a stable and inert ion source like teflon. The best overall option for a reliable and abundant propulsion method would appear to be the use of solar sails, particularly for planetary surveyors and orbiters with prolonged remote sensing agendas.

If we were to take it a step further, we might consider landers with rovers or even submarines. RTG power sources, combined with aerobreaking, parachutes and airbags require the least amount of propellant, but would probably only be chosen for use in relatively dense atmospheres.

Engineering Proofing

Keeping these systems operational after 100 years of storage, sends everyone back to the drawing board, as the entire history of human spaceflight isn't that long. It is however possible with current engineering practices to construct and test many of these systems.

Perhaps testing these advanced systems in dual-role planetary exploration missions, as concurrent precursor and engineering proofing platforms for interstellar missions is the best way to both explore our solar system and prepare for interstellar exploration.

New Evidence For Seas of Liquid Diamond On Neptune

Remote gas giant planets Neptune and Uranus could be covered in vast seas of liquid diamond, dotted with solid diamond chunks like icebergs. A new experiment revealed such oceans are plausible, and would explain some oddities about Neptune's magnetic field.

Published recently in Nature Physics, the study is an effort to explain two things: What causes the magnetic poles of Neptune and Uranus to be so far off their geographic poles; and what would cause the planets to have a 10 percent carbon makeup. Diamond seas are the answer, and their experiment suggested that these seas would behave a lot like water oceans.
cientists have produced liquid diamond before (you can see a picture of the "z machine" above, which liquifies diamond using electricity and pressure), but mostly for industrial applications. The researchers in this study, however, wondered what would happen to diamond in an ultra-hot, high-pressure atmosphere like Neptune's. Once they had liquified the diamond at extreme pressures, the researchers brought the pressure back up to Neptune levels (about 11 million times Earth's), while bringing the up to the planet's usual 50,000 degrees. As the atmospheric mix stabilized, they discovered that chunks of solid diamond appeared in the liquid, floating atop it like sheets of ice.

Vast seas of diamond could also explain how the giant planets' magnetic fields got warped too, with the magnetic pole as much as 60 degrees off from the geologic one.


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