is chaotic:

What is the import of Lorenz? Literally ALL of our collective data on historic “global atmospheric temperature” are known to be inaccurate to at least +/- 0.1 degrees C. No matter what initial value the dedicated people at NCAR/UCAR enter into the CESM for global atmospheric temperature, it will differ from reality (from actuality – the number that would be correct if it were possible to produce such a number) by many, many orders of magnitude greater than the one/one-trillionth of a degree difference used to initialize these 30 runs in the CESM-Large Ensemble. Does this really matter? In my opinion, it does not matter. It is easy to see that the tiniest of differences, even in a just one single initial value, produce 50-year projections that are as different from one another as is possible(see endnote 1). I do not know how many initial conditions values have to be entered to initialize the CESM – but certainly it is more than one. How much more different would the projections be if each of the initial values were altered, even just slightly?

This has always been pretty obvious to me. What does it mean? That we cannot model it into the future with any confidence whatsoever.

The Storm

On a personal note, we had our house (less than half a mile from the beach) shuttered yesterday, and it will probably be all right. It’s frustrating though, because we finally got it under contract this weekend, and it was supposed to be inspected for the buyer tomorrow. Doubt that will happen for a while now; no way to know how long they’ll be without power (and of course, the nightmare scenario is if it curves around and hits south Florida again). The worse problem is that Patricia’s son lives in Lake Worth, out by the turnpike, and has no shutters, so he’s desperately trying to find plywood or particle board for his windows. It’s looking to me like the winds will start from the east, then rotate around to the north as it passes by along the coast. And if it actually scrapes the land, it will be worse.

But the latest is that it’s still headed right at the Cape, and could even become a five when it hits tomorrow. If that happens, it will probably destroy the VAB, and other facilities, which are only rated for 125 mph winds. It would also probably wipe out much of the infrastructure at CCAFS, which would put both SpaceX and ULA out of business for low-inclination launches until it can be repaired. The only access to ISS (at least with any significant payload — one can dogleg out of Vandenberg, with a big performance penalty) would be from Wallops, via Orbital ATK. Hard to understate what a blow this would be in terms of our space capabilities. And it will raise questions about the future of NASA spaceflight, though Congress is likely to authorize the funding to rebuild, because without the VAB, they can’t even pretend that SLS will have any utility.

People have asked why the facilities weren’t designed to handle these kinds of winds. One of the reasons that the Cape was chosen is that, historically, it doesn’t see these kinds of storms, so designing for them would be like designing for a 200-year flood. But sometimes, 200-year floods happen.

[Update a while later]

Here’s a story from Maddie Stone at Gizmodo (though no, this storm wasn’t caused by “climate change”, but we can count on a lot of foolish people saying it was).

[Late-morning update]

And here we go: “‘Liberals’ already blaming Matthew on global warming.” [Scare quotes mine; they’re leftists, not liberals]

[Update mid afternoon]

Stephen Smith, who think’s he’s going to have to find a new job and move as a result, thinks that this is going to be apocalyptic for KSC. I think it’s very likely.

[Update a while later]

The storm seems to be further east than predicted, and I think Palm Beach County is out of serious trouble. Not sure what this means for the future track, in terms of where it makes landfall, or how much it affects the Cape.

[Update Friday morning]

Looks like they dodged a bullet. The storm stayed off shore, and they only saw winds less than a hundred mph (similar to Frances). Hearing there’s some damage to some roofs, but mostly came through intact.

A New Antibiotic Weapon Against Superbugs

This development looks promising. and this is the best part:

SNAPPs appear to pose no threat to healthy tissue, they only attack bacteria. This is in marked contrast to antibiotics that are known to have unpleasant side-effects under certain conditions because they damage both bacteria and healthy tissue. Why do the SNAPPs leave healthy tissue alone? Because the SNAPPs are too big to interact effectively with mammalian cell tissue. They’re like big dogs that attack other big dogs to establish dominance while ignoring tiny dogs that are beneath their notice.

SNAPPs appear to have the potential to work as a substitute in cases where AMR makes treatment with antibiotics ineffective. This is a very good thing, but is it also another short-term solution? Will the bacteria mutate and develop resistance to SNAPPs the same way they have developed resistance to antibiotics?

Lam and her team examined this question by exposing 600 generations of a colistin-resistant superbug to SNAPPs. The superbug the researchers used is known to mutate and acquire antibiotic resistance rapidly but the SNAPPs killed the 600th generation as effectively and easily as they did the first. The researchers speculate that the bacteria are unable to develop resistance because there are so many ways the SNAPPs can kill them.

Faster, please.

Space Assembly

Space Systems Loral has signed an agreement with Firmamentum to build satellites on orbit:

Firmamentum Signs Contract with SSL for In-Space Manufacturing Demo

BOTHELL, WA., 5 October 2016 – Firmamentum, a division of Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI), announced that it has signed a contract with Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, to prepare a flight demonstration of in-space manufacture of a component on a communications satellite. Firmamentum’s in-space manufacturing hardware is intended to fly as part of SSL’s “Dragonfly” program, which will demonstrate in-space robotic assembly of geostationary (GEO) communications satellites, enabling dramatic improvements in GEO satellite performance and mission flexibility. The Dragonfly program is funded under NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) Tipping Point initiative to work with industry to advance the goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system through the development of critical space technologies.

Firmamentum’s demonstration will validate a technology for on-orbit additive manufacturing of carbon-fiber composite structures. This technology, called the “Trusselator™”, enables space systems to fabricate large, lightweight, and high-performance truss structures to support antennas, sensors, solar arrays, and other key components. Manufacturing the structure after the satellite has reached orbit allows these components to be significantly larger than if they had to be stowed within a rocket shroud. Increasing the size of these key elements of a satellite enables higher data throughput, higher resolution, higher sensitivity, and higher power than achievable by satellites manufactured entirely on the ground.

“The Dragonfly program is a tremendous opportunity for us to demonstrate the readiness of in-space manufacturing technologies to enable transformative improvements in the performance of communications satellites, and we are very thankful that SSL has selected us to team with in this endeavor,” said Dr. Rob Hoyt, Firmamentum’s CEO.

“The evolution of next generation communications satellites and space systems depends on dramatic advances in technology and manufacturing processes,” said Dr. Matteo Genna, Chief Technology Officer of SSL. “Firmamentum plays a key role on the Dragonfly team and enables us to demonstrate the importance of in-space manufacturing, which we expect will be a significant capability for future missions.”

This is the kind of thing that is going to make systems like SLS look increasingly ridiculous.

Of course, if the current storm predictions hold up, Hurricane Matthew may take care of the problem. The Cape is in the crosshairs, and the VAB wasn’t built to handle a Cat 4 storm.

The Space Launch System

A history. I’d dispute this, though:

“Humans are pretty needy,” Lyles told me. “You’re taking water, you’re taking all of their environmental control systems, and whatever they need on a really long mission. A large, heavy launch vehicle is almost a no-brainer.”

NASA is not alone in this conclusion. During a two-week span last month, private companies SpaceX and Blue Origin both unveiled giant, SLS-scale launchers that will become key parts of their future spaceflight aspirations.

One of these things is not like the others. SpaceX and Blue Origin want to build big rockets because they plan to put thousands of people into space. NASA is doing it because Congress wants to keep thousands employed in the right zip codes (as the article makes clear).

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!