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 2023–12–23

Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men! This is one of those shows in which I read poetry, so if you don’t like that, you are now properly warned. One poem is 160 years old, the other, more than 2400.

Supplementary Show

2023–12–29 Selections from “Let’s Talk About the Atom”, “Let’s Talk About Energy”, and “Energy and the Atom” with the general theme of future.

Nine cards of different colors in a three-by-three arrangement. Each shows a US 3-cent "Atoms for Peace" postage stamp of 1955, and a Greek 10-drachma coin depicting Democritus, father of the atomic theory. A tenth card is turned over to show the back.
Pick a colour!

ASFO 2023–12–16

A new film transfer for your viewing delight! A tease of something which patrons have seen and everybody will be able to see soon ; more about plastics recycling ; an extended discussion of the implication of rapid adoption of hand–held computers with radio data links ; and a few thoughts about the unexpected dystopian scenario in which so–called AI (which certainly is not “artificial intelligence” by any believable definition) is using humans as end effectors to destroy other humans. Skynet and its Terminators would arguably have been preferable!

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–12–18 DJ Marcus, in his “News to Me” timeslot, played a recording of US President Eisenhower’s famous “Atoms for Peace” speech, delivered 8 December 1953. We thank him for that!
  • 2023–12–22 “Atomic Year 25”, and some other selections from Argonne National Laboratory and the American Nuclear Society on the subject of breeder reactors, in an attempt to provide some kind of commemoration for EBR–I.
Photo of the French gaseous-diffusion plant at Pierrelatte, with superimposed text "La Separation des Isotopes de l'Uranium (Diffusion Gazeuse)"

ASFO 2023–09–23

Good news from Canada! Also the OSIRIS–REx space mission, some observations about the UAW strike, the politics of the Wall Street Journal, more of my accurséd numismatism, and the usual miscellany.

Two rectangular blue cards with "The Luna Project" stamped on them in gold, and cutouts holding Luna Project medalets. Scattered around, five Greek 10 drachma coins with an imaginary head of Democritus on one side and an atom symbol on the other.
The laser-cut, rubber-stamped Luna Project medalet cards, and some of the Greek coins I propose to make into similar souvenirs

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–09–26 More from Science News Yearbook 1970, mostly about the continuing struggle to get enough data to understand and predict the weather, and the longer–term changes in climate.
  • 2023–09–29 The “Awards and Prizes” section of Science News Yearbook 1970, and a goodly part of a little booklet entitled Euratom at the Atomium, describing a “Permanent Exhibition” inside a large sculpture erected for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Unfortunately, this exhibition appears no longer to exist, and the space is now used for a historical presentation on the 1958 Fair. This may be considered a symptom of the loss of confidence and forward momentum in the field of atomic energy and in Euratom specifically.

ASFO 2023–09–16

Mail call! Also a contemplation of nuclear safety, in the context of the horrific dam collapse catastrophe in Libya ; Indian country broadband, the question of “sticking to the old ways,” and the possibility that novelty–seeking is a fear response, with a diversion into alternative foodstuffs (the peanut is your friend!) ; and “teaching the controversy”.

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–09–19 Again from Science News Yearbook 1970, sections on Apollo 12, Soyuz 4―8, and Mariner 6 and 7.
  • 2023–09–22 The rest of the space material from Science News Yearbook 1970, including Venera 5 and 6, the death of Bonnie the macaque, and a round–up of major space missions launched in 1969 up to 17 November. Also I start reading the section on atmospheric science, led there by a note in the space round–up. (Again this is a substitute archive.)

ASFO 2023–09–02

On Labor Day, thank a union worker for your freedoms! This show may be the only time this year you hear a mention of the “Helderberg War” for the abolition of feudalism, fought in upstate New York against Cornelius van Rensselaer. Also it looks as though I really am going to Loscon, and I may also be making a further venture into private minting.

Die of the Luna Project medalets, surrounded by its produce
The original Luna Project medalets were struck in 2008. One custom die was made, and the other side was a generic token die in a starburst pattern.
Stacks of Luna Project medalets, some packaged in flips with cards
One thousand of these medalets were struck on nickel-plated brass blanks, and shipped to me at the 2008 World Science Fiction Convention in Denver. This photo was taken after my return, and I had sold or given away some of them by then, so there are fewer than 1000 pieces pictured.

Supplementary Show

  • 2023–09–05 I begin reading from Science News Yearbook 1970. In addition to the Table of Contents, Preface, and Introduction (by Glenn Seaborg), I get through the chapter on the Apollo 9 mission, and also spend a little time reading an item which helps explain the global warming/cooling controversy which some people remember from the early 1970s.
  • 2023–09–08 After a couple of brief notices from a 1978 number of the Journal of College Science Teaching, I pick up again with Science News Yearbook 1970, reading (with my usual interspersed commentary) the sections on Apollo 10 and Apollo 11. Again this did not archive properly, but I recorded it locally and uploaded it to my own Webspace.

ASFO 2023–08–26

Chestnuts? (Not the literary kind, either.) It seems there are few subjects on which I don’t have at least a little to say. Also why a Mars colony needs good AI ― and LLMs will kill you out there ; a long digression on the American mode of providing medical services (which is still not a “health care system”) ; and a possible visit to Loscon in late November.

Supplementary Show

  • 2023–08–29 More from ST ’87, mostly regarding the Venera–15 and –16 and Veha/Vega missions, and the then–planned but ultimately unsuccessful Phobos missions.
  • 2023–09–01 Probably the last I will read from ST ’87, including a note by Valery Legasov about Chernobyl and its implications. Did not archive.

ASFO 2023–08–19

When you don’t pay, that’s piracy, and it’s a crime. When we don’t pay, it’s just good business. Also, “grain disposal systems” in America, and fertilizer in Africa ; the surprising connection between mushrooms, Texas school libraries, and California math classes ; and a note on the continuing (largely pointless) controversy over the use of nuclear weapons against Japan in 1945.

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–08–22 Further from ST ’87 : Soviet Science and Technology : Thirty Years of the Space Age, a chronology.
  • 2023–08–25 A somewhat aimless quasi–random walk through ST ’87 : Soviet Science and Technology. There are quite a few good segments in this book, as well as some I read in a spirit of irony, talking about the next 30 years of the CMEA and so on. (May not have archived properly)

ASFO 2023–08–12

Back from vacation! Do I have anything new to say? Complaints about landlords, economists, and bad reasoning probably don’t qualify. Also a brief description of some of my recent activities, and a reflection on the failure of oil to spur broader economic and social development even in some of the largest producing countries.

Supplementary Show

  • 2023–08–15 ATOM 302 (1981 December) supplies the material : a summary of a lecture in October of that year by the incoming President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, Sir Francis Tombs, under the head of Misunderstanding Nuclear Power ; a report on a colloquium in Paris on Energy and Society, organized by the deeply antinuclear “Groupe de Bellerive” ; and a couple of short items.
  • 2023–08–18 Selections from a Novosti Press Agency Almanac ST ’87 : Soviet Science and Technology. I read the captions to the two color glossy photo sections, and then most of From the First Satellite to Orbital Research Complexes, a contribution by cosmonaut and engineer Georgi Grechko DSc, to a section headed Jubilees, Memorable Dates, Reminiscences.

ASFO 2023–07–08

Probably the last new show until August 12th, although I might be able to use the call–in feature while I’m at the beach in Manitoba. Mostly I talk about transport ― filling stations for motorcars versus charging stations for battery–electric cars, hydrogen propulsion for trains or perhaps airships, and especially the remarkable scaling properties of steel wheels on steel rails with overhead–wire electrification.

Supplementary Show

2023–07–11 Dialing in this time, to check that this should work for ASFO shows while I’m in Canada the next few weeks (I’ll leave the HNtW timeslot for repeats), I finish the Hoyle et al piece from last time, and then read Nuclear Reactions in Stars Without Hydrogen (Astrophysical Journal, 1952) by EE Salpeter and Primeval Helium Abundance and the Primeval Fireball (Physical Review Letters, 1966) by PJE Peebles, from the same source, and a bit of Hans Bethe’s famous 1938 “Solar Phoenix” paper, Energy Production in Stars (Physical Review).