Saturday, June 13, 2009

Got an apartment

It looks like I should be starting work on the 24th. That means unless I hear something different from them I will move next Thursday or Friday.

Following my generally cheap nature I was able to talk myself into, and was approved for, a "Jr. 1 bedroom" at California Villages apartment building in Pico Rivera. This is really a studio with an extra wall to hide the bed. At only 489 square feet it is pretty tiny, but it is only $907 a month and was nicer than the other apartments off craigslist I saw. It is cheap enough that I have a reasonable chance of paying off my credit card debt, and a good chunk of my student loan debt within the year. Then I might not feel bad getting into a more expensive apartment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bubbles in Space

Here is a neat video about water bubbles in zero gravity. The first demonstration is reasonably uninteresting, but the second one is great.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Space Colonies

I have long thought that the space colonies that make the most sense are giant spinning cylinders located off of planets. I was therefore very excited to find this article from NASA saying essentially the same thing:

The best place to live on Mars is not nearly as nice as the most miserable part of Siberia. Mars is far colder, you can't go outside without a space suit, and it's a months-long rocket ride if you want a Hawaiin vacation. The Moon is even colder at night, and it's literally boiling during the day. By contrast, orbital colonies have unique and desiraable properties, particularly 0g recreation and great views.

Much greater growth potential. The Moon and Mars together have a surface area roughly the size of Earth. But if the single largest asteroid (Ceres) were to be used to build orbital space colonies, the total living area created would be approximately 150 times the surface area of the Earth. Since much of the Earth is ocean or sparsely inhabited, settlements built from Ceres alone could provide uncrowded homes for more than a trillion people.

Interstellar travel seems impractical due to long travel times. But what if you lived in space settlements for fifty generations? Do you really care if your settlement is near our Sun or in transit to Alpha Centuri? So what if the trip takes a few generations? If energy and make up materials for the trip can be stored, a stable population can migrate to nearby stars. At the new star, local materials and energy can be used to build new settlements and resume population growth.
I suspect we would want to mine asteroids and moons. But the advantages of living in deep space over any other object in the solar system are huge.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Driving to the Arctic Circle

Apparently it can be done! There is not a single road into Nunavut. However in the Northwest Territories it is possible to drive to the town of Inuvik, where there is 24 hour a day sunlight for 56 days in the summer. It probably be a similar length drive to what I did last January. It would probably be best just to fly, but that would make for an impressive drive.

Still Safer

And the trend that has been happening for most of the last fifteen years has continued. Crime rates dropped again last year:

Nationwide, murder and manslaughter dropped 4.4 percent in 2008. Aggravated assault declined 3.2 percent, forcible rape decreased 2.2 percent, and robbery dropped 1.1 percent. The country also saw a huge drop in car thefts -- more than 13 percent.

2005 and 2006 saw small increases in the crime rate. That was up from historic lows though, now that it has dropped for two more years we are still quite clearly at the lowest crime rates in the past forty years.


I think I have just found what would manage to simultaneously be the most awesome, and more than likely boring, vacation site possible. Nunavut. The most northern providence in Canada. I knew it existed, but the shear vastness and emptiness is mind boggling. Even Alaska cannot compete as it has around twenty times the population, in a land area that is nearly two hundred thousand square miles smaller(if Alaska was a country it would be the 18th largest in the world, if Nunavut was a country it would be 15th):
Nunavut is both the least populated and the geographically largest of the provinces and territories of Canada. It has a population of 29,474 spread over an area the size of Western Europe.

The population density is 0.015 persons per square kilometre, one of the lowest in the world. By comparison, Greenland, to the east, has approximately the same area and nearly twice the population.
The largest city in this massive land area is just over 6000 people!

The book Kabloona was written about the area as it was something like eighty years ago. Even today more than 80% of the population is Inuit. It just isn't an environment that many people wish to learn to survive. Still, a few summer weeks would probably be about as surreal an experience as can be found anywhere in the world.

Looking online, it is clear they are trying to draw tourists, but it also doesn't give the impression that this is actually that common. The webpage is full of warnings that just wouldn't exist in a more populous part of the world like how you may find yourself unable to exchange foreign currency so it should be done before the trip.