Saturday, January 01, 2011

Somerset walks

On Thursday Alex, Clare and myself walked across the tops to Wookey Hole where we lunched in the local Inn. I was perhaps the most adventurous, ordering a cherry beer called Mort Subite and a wild boar burger. My schoolboy latin told me that the beer was "sudden death" but my classical pronounciation was corrected by the waitress who said it the Belgian way.

Yesterday Clare and myself took in the Ham Wall wetland sanctuary where we saw the starlings coming in to roost again.

Today we took a stroll up to Beacon Batch, at 325 metres the highest point on the Mendips and thence down to Burrington Combe (pix below).

As regards this post, Dr Roy Simpson comments sardonically:

Hi Nigel,

There is a conundrum here where I am not sure what your stance is.

Having expressed the view that Aliens are presumed bad guys, and that inadvertent or deliberate broadcasts will give us away, and having drawn the conclusion that good defensive weapons (e.g exawatt lasers) might help defend the planet when the time comes (which could be any day ... any decade) --- who builds these weapons?

The problem is that contemporary weapons builders are defence companies perceived as building increasingly powerful weapons against fellow man, rather than as NASA/ESA/CERN-like international organisations building things for the good of fellow man.

Should one advocate a continuation of the Military-Industrial-Complex after all, but at the Global Scale? Is such an idea feasible from any political or ethical perspective? On the other hand could the existing members of the MIC actually like this idea because it seems to me (and I am sure others) that building these big expensive weapons seems increasingly out of place in the current Geopolitical scene. As you know the best military R&D for the UK right now is anything to do with detecting/neutralising anti-personnel mines - not "large kit" systems, perhaps even true for US. As you know often these procurements happen to "keep skills" rather than it being objectively necessary that such systems are all needed. So could Earth "keep skills" by designing-researching and building "Earth Defences" - admittedly regionally at first?

(PS I have just read about some ex-Black projects and recently learned that Stealth is the result of a mathematician -- a Soviet mathematician from the 1960s. Interesting substory here by itself.)


To which I reply.

"The Exawatt lasers were actually mentioned in the context of SETI signalling at power levels significantly in excess of the earth's reflected light. This is not a trivial engineering challenge if you're talking about sustained power output. Apparently the human race currently consumes as a whole around 15 TW.

On defensive measures there's a whole book published on how to militarily defeat aliens. About on a par, I imagine, with a discussion amongst Australian Aborigines about how to defeat the current US marine corps at first contact!

As regards undefendable-against alien weaponry, I particularly like steerable asteroids and relativistic kinetic weapons - if you're into loud bangs. More sophisticated weapons need not be anything much more potent than a tailored virus."