ASFO 2024–05–11

Did you see the Aurora Borealis last night? It was visible quite far south. (There was Aurora Australis too.) Economists (not for the first time) get the sharp edge of my tongue as I reflect on one of the world’s most baffling megaprojects, “Neom ‘The Line’”. Also, Mail Call!

ASFO 2024–05–04

Dragonfly, the probe–aircraft which NASA has decided will soon be sent on its way to Titan, the giant moon of Saturn, is in my thoughts today. In particular, I want to know where the plutonium–238 for its thermoelectric power source will come from. Otherwise, I mostly discuss my travel plans, both for returning to the USA and for this autumn ; Deutsches Museum, one of the greatest science and technology museums in the world ; and the curious railway station at Eisenstein, where the border between Germany and the Czech Republic is halfway along the platform.

The Sunless City

From the papers and diaries of the late Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, Esq. — by JE Preston Muddock, also author (according to the title page) of Maid Marian and Robin Hood, Stories, Weird and Wonderful, From the Bosom of the Deep, The Dead Man’s Secret, Sweet Doll of Haddon Hall, Stormlight, For God and the Czar, et cetera. Not only is there a mining town in Manitoba named Flin Flon after this book, but the copy I am reading from was sent to me by SDFer somedude, who resides there.

  • 2023–04–26 Live reading of the table of contents, Chapter 1 “The Lake of Mystery”, and Chapter 2 “Flin Flon’s Fish”
  • 2024–04–30 Chapter 3 “The Start”, Chapter 4 “A Subterranean River”, Chapter 5 “A Petrified Forest”, and the beginning of Chaper 6 “The Hall of Jewels”

ASFO 2024–04–20

Mostly progress reports, on blast and the Payphone Thing. I talk about the use of hypertext in conjunction with, or as a support for, printed text ; and the motivation for presenting information through an interface which may seem uniquely irrelevant in today’s world ; with a brief digression into one possible way I might use a substantially larger amount of financial support. I also spend a minute questioning what seem like senseless political choices, particularly when purported priorities conflict with actual policies, leading me back to the idea of “leaving room for Nature”.

Supplementary Show

2023–04–23 Starting a little late, I read from the notes to blast №1, and then a couple of supporting articles from Architectural Record magazine (reprinted 1955 in a volume entitled Architectural Engineering). I subsequently called in to OpenVoIP to finish the second piece.

ASFO 2024–04–13

Not the most focused show, but no prevaricating about the bush from me! The Conquest of Pestilence in New York City, LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity) versus LCOLC (Levelized Cost of Load Carriage), intercontinental air travel versus atomic train travel, caloric value of food, its insufficiencies and excesses and its sources, and the problem of expectations generally.

Supplementary Show

2024–04–16 From Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (1955), volume 16, I read Willard Libby’s evening lecture entitled Radiocarbon Dating. Unfortunately, the archiver was down and did not capture it. See Dr Libby talking about the technique on film here.

ASFO 2024–04–06

Owing to a mishap, the actual show starts about 20 minutes into the recording. It’s just long enough for me to mention progress with blast, and compare the Coire Glas pumped storage scheme in Scotland, which will be the largest in the world with 30 GWh of capacity, to the daily output of one EPR nuclear generating unit, of which two are being built at Hinkley Point C, 38·4 GWh. The UK grid is already one of the best–provided in the world with storage, with 24 GWh. Since average electrical consumption of the UK (over the course of a year) is 36 GW, the total after this addition will be 90 minutes of average system load. A far cry from the 10 days or more that wind– and solar–heavy energy supply projections call for!

ASFO 2024–03–30

Electricity is the only industrial commodity that must be consumed before it is produced — a koan for the modern age? Also, a warning against attempting to live in the world of signs, rather than of things signified ; and the case for a railway in Iceland.