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Talk amongst yourselves for a while, but remember, play nice.


  1. Ian B says:

    Does anyone know the power requirements of a warp drive? I don’t need to be too precise, order of magnitude kind of thing. Gigawatts? Terawatts? Etc. I’m trying to size my black hole correctly so I’ve not got too much extra energy to dump, nor too much mass to drag around.

    Any advice on a safe way to couple the ship and the black hole would be helpful too.

  2. Sunfish says:

    Couple them with duct tape. Remember: duct tape to join things, WD40 to separate them.

    Also, your power supply needs to be 120VAC at 60Hz. That creates a time warp. That’s what we use in the States, and that’s also why we appear to be living in the past.

  3. Ian B says:

    I have a fox, a chicken, a sack of grain and a pervert in my boat. The pervert is stuck to the chicken with duct tape, and the WD40 is inside the pervert. Please advise.

  4. Sunfish says:

    Ferment the grain and drink it.

    And by ‘ fox,’ do you mean Megan Fox or something a little more conventionally vulpine? That detail could be important.

  5. Kevin B says:

    I believe the correct aphorism runs something like:

    “If it moves and it shouldn’t, duct tape; if it doesn’t move and it should, WD40.”

    I’m not entirely sure that this applies in Ian’s warp drive case since duct tape has an adverse reaction to vacuum. Perhaps that’s the answer to the second problem. In space no-one can here the chicken scream.

  6. Sunfish says:


    You are, of course, correct.

    I’m unclear as to the purpose of the chicken, however. I would have just taken the warp-equipped boat through the drive-through at Church’s or El Pollo Loco.

  7. Sam Duncan says:

    “… if it doesn’t move and it should, WD40.”

    So obviously Ian’s asking the wrong question. It’s not how many Gigawatts or Terawatts you need to get to warp speed, it’s how much WD40. Billions of cans? Trillions?

    They only called it dilithium on Star Trek to get round trademark issues.

  8. Leo G says:

    Sam, now we run into the age old querie? Do we expell the WD40 in ever increasing amounts to gain warp, or do we turbo charge by also burning the expelling WD40?

    Actually, on my warp drive system I use Coke and Menthos.

  9. NickM says:

    Not to piss on your ideas of Galatic domination…

    But I once calculated the energy requirements for the related issue of travelling on a PTW. It’s roughly the same as the E=mc2 for say Titan. And that’s assuming the Universe is Goedelian (it isn’t) and that’s a capsule weighing 1000kgs.

  10. RAB says:

    KP Jelly for me. You can slip in and out of Black Holes easily :-)

  11. RAB says:

    Umm, bugger! That should be KY…

  12. Ian B says:

    What’s a PTW?

    I’m just looking at using the black hole as a total mass/energy conversion machine. I throw in any old useless rubbish; old sofas, food scraps, people with PPE degrees, and out comes pure lovely energy which I, er,

    something to do with steam I think


    The pervert is now stuck in the chicken and Megan is covered in WD40. Am I doing this right?

  13. Jeff Wood says:

    Finally, a sensible discussion here about practical matters. I look forward to seeing how it develops.

  14. Kevin B says:

    RAB, if your buggering with KP jelly, you’re nuts.

  15. NickM says:

    PTW, Past-travelling timelike worldline. Basically you go back in time whilst remaining within your own light-cone.

    Wetting myself with laughter.

  16. Edward Lud says:

    Where’s Harry Hutton when you need him?

    His knowledge in these matters is sovereign.

  17. CountingCats says:

    Leave you lot unsupervised for a day, and mass insanity breaks out.

  18. CIngram says:


    This is what sanity looks like. You spend so much time analysing the flatulent twaddle of politicos and journos that you forget what reality is.

    @Ian B

    Are you taking into account the angular momentum of your black hole? You don’t want the junk seeping out at the poles and turning up in your garage again, do you? It happens to me all the time, and as my wife isn’t a physicist it’s hard to make her understand that it isn’t my fault and I really did clear it out the Sunday before last.


    I’m delighted to say I can’t help with that particular problem.

  19. Ian B says:

    CIngram, I’ve thought of that. There are powerful fans above and below the black hole to blow the junk back in.

  20. Ian B says:

    Nick, a serious (sort of) question. All this about black holes has got me thinking, which is always bad, and I was wondering about modifying the gravity equation. See, we can only postulate black holes because at some distance from a dense mass (the Schwarzschild Radius) the acceleration g exceeds the speed of light[1] so you end up with a region inside it where g is greater than c and the laws of physics stop working.

    So I was thinking, what if that’s impossible, so I am trying to figure out how to modify gravity so that g‘s maximum limit is c. That is, when the distance between masses is zero, the result isn’t infinity, but c. It means jamming in some kind of gamma factor like modifier, but I can’t figure out how, because my math is shite. Any ideas?

    [1] Okay, the escape velocity, don’t be picky.

  21. View from the Solent says:

    In the UK, ready-made mens’ trousers have waist sizes in 2″ increments of even numbers and the leg lengths are 2″ increments of odd numbers.
    Do men in other countries conform to this pattern of shapes?

  22. Ian B says:

    The really strange thing is why the definining statistic of a shirt is the nominal circumference of your neck.

  23. Edward Lud says:

    For that matter, if larry is short for Lawrence and Harry is short for Henry or Harold then why isn’t Barry short for bawrence, benry or barold. If we’re getting down to first causes, that is.

  24. Ian B says:

    And if Bob is short for Robert, shouldn’t the contraction of Richard be pronounced Bitch?

  25. Sam Duncan says:

    Why is Harry short for Henry? It’s the same bloody length.

    Come to that, why is Jock short for John, but only in Scotland?

  26. Laird says:

    In the US waist and inseam lengths are both in 1″ increments. My problem is that they keep making the inches smaller.

  27. Edward Lud says:

    Ian B, “If Bob is short for Robert…”, well that’s a generational thing, doncha know. Bob IS short for Robert if you’re over 50. Otherwise it’s Rob. Likewise Bill for William, otherwise it’s Will. But there are other rules, too. Lizzie or Betty or Eliza for Elizabeth but only if you’re a human being, otherwise Liz if you’re a prodnose.

  28. NickM says:

    On sizing the thing that always got me is if I buy a shirt and a pair of trousers then there will be three degrees of freedom but if a woman buys a dress there is only one – dress size and this despite women tending to be a more interesting shape. Now obviously this goes up to two degrees of freedom in the case of a woman buying separate top and bottom garments and I’ve known a lot of women who are say a 10 up top or an 8 downstairs.

    I just wonder why the dress-size paradigm reigns when it really is deeply inexact.

    I’ll get back to that later…

  29. Sunfish says:

    In the US waist and inseam lengths are both in 1″ increments. My problem is that they keep making the inches smaller.

    Where can I get odd sizes? I’ve never seen them at either Targhe or the army-surplus place where I get carhartts, and I only go to wal-mart to people watch.


    Women’s clothes in the US are largely designed by gay men, whose interest in the contents of their creations is, at best, academic. Forgive them, for they know not what they measure.

    Not just Scotland. It also means John in France. (Frak me, did I just call the Scots French? Oops.)

  30. Sam Duncan says:

    Actually, Sunfish, that makes a lot of sense. The Auld Alliance, and all that.

  31. NickM says:

    Don’t quite buy that… Up to a point the NYC, Milan, London, Paris creations are designed for a certain specific build (albeit one that does change over time) but those are bespoke so are entirely very specifically measured. “Ms Naomi Campbell has had how many snorts?!!!” “Best take it in a bit, darling!” but even as far as high female fashion is concerned you are going for an aesthetic in a cut-throat business. The best looking woman in the worst fitting dress (no matter how gorgeous that dress might look on someone else) is still not going to look good so Vogue et al will pan it and you’ll be back to designing surgical smocks…

    But even then that doesn’t explain it for off the peg stuff. There is a gap in the market (Not a Gap – are they still going?) and for some reason it hasn’t been exploited.

  32. Ian B says:

    The boob to butt ratio has changed. Women are far more concerned about not having a big bum than they used to be. Look at bikini models from a few decades ago and while they might have a nice pair, by today’s standards their bums are quite flabby and they’re often noticably sucking their stomachs in. So whereas you might have had a voluptuous vixen being 38D-26-38, now they’re like 32DD-24-32 or something. Why are the average boobs geting bigger for a generally lower amount of body fat? Who cares? Haha. Well, probably exercise, dieting, etc.

    Part of it’s (stuck record) puritanism, being fat is associated with moral laxity and all that. But it might just be trousers. Women wear trousers much more than they used to. Skirts are much more forgiving than trousers, and a curvaceous bottom in a tight skirt looks great, whereas in tight trousers it’ll just look big.

    I have quite a kitschy fondness for ancient 8mm porn loops; they’re becoming cultural artifacts now like older silent movies, where the cultural disconnect means the pornographic effect is rather minor but it’s fun peeping into a world now long past. In fact I just this afternoon downloaded an old Harrison Marks loop from 1972. It starts with two guys with unfortunate hair meeting two gals on the concourse of the then exciting and new Euston Station as passers by wave at the camera. It’s black and white and seems to have been made on a home cine camera, delightful stuff. Then they go back to a flat and put some groovy (silent) sounds on the quadrophonic hi-fidelity radiogram, pour some blue nun and get down to business. Where was I? Oh yes. The girls are pretty, very nice in fact (then you remember they’re granny age now, and it all feels weird) but the figures are noticably more bottomy than you’d see in anything adult today, or modelling a bikini.

    Obesity epidemic? There are certainly fat people around. But the girl who wants to be considered slim these days has to work a lot harder at it than she used to.

    Part of the appeal of the ancient stuff is the age of it, in that it was all much more amateurish and there are all these loops featuring persons unknown, unlike the more developed industry that came soon after where it’s all Shaylene MacFoxxy and stuff. All these girls who make a couple of films, then disappear into history. It makes me smile to think of these grey-haired ladies dotted around with this secret from that brief time when it looked like the world would swing forever, in flickery 8mm.

  33. Ian B says:

    Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that gravity isn’t a “force”. Forces are moderated by bosons, like the electromagnetic force uses photons. Gravity is some characteristic of the arena in which they operate (“spacetime”) not a force within that arena. So, there aren’t any “gravitons” exchange quanta of gravity.

    The error starts with Newton; he was trying to create a unified theory of motion, so correctly described mechanical forces in that framework, but to tie gravitation in, he had to make that a force too. But that means that the equations are written in terms of an imaginary force, and to derive that force he has to multiply by the masses. But then to get back the actual effect of the force- the accleration, which is independent of mass- he has to divide it by the mass again, cancelling out. Which works until you have to include massless particles that are affected by gravity, i.e. the photon, because then you have to do a multiply and divide by zero, and the whole thing stops working. Of course he didn’t know that then, so it’s not his fault.

    But that’s why they can’t find a quantum theory of gravity. There isn’t one. It isn’t a quantum effect. There isn’t a gravity boson.

    So that got me thinking that if the fundamental description of gravity is not as a force but as an acceleration- imagine the MineCraft universe, where every cube has a characteristic vector, which is the acceleration it will induce in any particle passing through- then that acceleration can’t be higher than c without breaking Einstein’s speed limit[1], so it’s simply an impossibility. And if that’s true, there’s no Schwarzchild radius, no black holes, no exciting wormholes through spacey-time and all the rest of that. There will be exotic objects with extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme gravity, but no singularities.

    Yes, I know. I enjoy being a crank.

    [1] The actual acceleration experience by the particle will be modified by some factor, presumably gamma, so a particle going at .9c that enters a .9c acceleration cube can’t surpass c of course, same as if the acceleration were from a rocket engine rather than space itself.

  34. Kevin B says:

    This picture ties in neatly with IanB’s last two comments as the divine Ms Coco illustrates that bikinis can be modeled by the more callypigian lady whiledemonstrating the constant battle against gravity.

  35. Laird says:

    IanB, is it truly the current consensus among subatomic physicists that there is no graviton, or is that merely part of your conjecture?

  36. Ian B says:

    Merely part of my conjecture, Laird, I didn’t mean to imply any consensus among physicists. However, they can’t find it. I was watching something a while ago with that annoying TV physicist who was in a band once, talking to another physicist about searching for gravitons, and they were talking about maybe gravitons hide in other dimensions so that’s why you can’t see them, and (although it is a bit silly me making statements like this with Nick on our team) it just sounds to me like they’re making shit up.

  37. Roue le Jour says:

    That’s kinda weird. In one of my unpublishable sci fi epics the humans ask the humanoid alien to prove he’s not a human imposter. He replies offhandedly “Gravity’s not a force, it’s a dimension.” It was meant to be funny…

  38. Ian B says:

    And, in a burst of eerie synchronicity, I read that CERN have effectively given up on finding the Higgs boson. They think it doesn’t exist…

    The Higgs is supposed to explain mass, and thus lead towards a theory of quantum gravity. Maybe there ain’t one…

  39. ian says:

    Your musings on old porn and the present age of the participants reminds me of an old episode of Steptoe and Son where son finds an old flicker card set starring his father. (Yes I am old enough to have seen it first time around…)

  40. NickM says:

    Ian B,
    Before we get onto the weightier matter of girl’s bottoms…

    First off – there is a quantum theory of gravity – superstrings. That it makes Stevie Wonder wearing boxing gloves threading an antique Singer sewing machine look simple doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I met one of it’s founders once – Mike Green). He couldn’t explain what the fuck it meant either. But it is an essentially quantum theory that gravity follows on from as a natural course. Now that is interesting.

    A pal of mine (this discussion was “helped” somewhat because he worked at the ESO in Chile and brought back the darndest wines) was of the opinion that stitching little (quantum) to large (relativity) was pointless. I countered by saying that made no sense. I was right – it doesn’t but the real live universe doesn’t have to. We get conditioned into thinking it ought to because we get used to doing exams and they have to make sense within the time allowed.

    Ian B, as to your take on black holes. Er… the Wikipedia article on them is pretty good but suffice to say it is escape speed and not acceleration that matters. My old tutor Stan Clough (Nottingham University ’92-’95 – same time another Clough was calling the shots in that fair city) taught me about black holes. Now here’s something to ponder. You work with the Schwarzchild metric and it all goes Pete Tong with black holes but only in a mathematical sense so you re-jiggle the co-ordination and something falls out of this which is weird and explicit (bottoms come later, mind!). Of the four usual dimensions time is the “directed” one. Let’s say it takes an hour to drive to Market Harborough or an hour to drive to Lincoln. You have choice in direction but not in time. Indeed that same hour would pass if you were to sit on your arse and watch “Loose Women” talking frankly about the menopause (that would though feel longer). But in a black hole distance from the singularity is directed. That is the co-ordinate which always goes the same way.

    Stan was a bit woo-woo. He had though been on the team that invented the MRI scanner. His boss Peter Mansfield won the Nobel for it a few years back so in his anecdotage why not? He thought about physics differently and that was cool. I was subsequently taught GR at QMC by a Russian. I spent the first hour and a half wondering WTF about these “special” co-ordinates. So, I asked. “Why are some co-ordinates ‘special?'” He said, “They’re special and that is temporal”. The penny dropped. It was his accent – he meant “spatial”. It all made sense*

    Anyway. A black hole is very simple (see * again). It is a mass so dense (infinitely so) that like a surly-girl who bleaches her hair but never gets the roots (but has a tongue-stud for the porpoise of horatio and you just know will be filthy in bed) drops out of the Univers(ity/e it’s complicated but the short version is (and this idea goes way back before Oppenheimer et al). Where was I? Getting a mental blow-job from whichever Arquette was in “Pulp Fiction” (not the geezer in “Scream” – that would be… well as long as he swallows – I can’t stand spitters)). Anyway, the mass has to be within the Schwarzchild radius. Acceleration is not the issue – indeed the gradient of the gravitational potential (aka “force”) can be very small for a very big hole (insert(!) your own smutty innuendo). Ian, in the pre-quantum world forces are just a way of looking at it. There is always the abstraction of Hamiltonian mechanics.

    I suggest as far as rotating black holes (that’s all of ’em – pretty much) I suggest you look-up the Kerr and Kerr-Newman solutions. Now they are interesting.

    In finality (a dreadful word) your take on gravity (mass) reminds me of Ernst Mach. Which is why I pursued Godel down the rabbit-hole. I could go on forever on this but more bottomly things intercede…

    Kurt Godel was mad as a hatter. The poor man starved to death on a professor’s salary. He only trusted his wife to prepare his food and then she went into hospital and that was it for the greatest mathematician of the last century. And unlike his pal at Princeton he never shagged Marilyn Monroe who could at least have made him a pie.

    *In the macho physics sense of “sense”. You spend the rest of the afternoon scrawling on an A4 pad and chewing the end off a pencil and it makes sense. And that is for (a phrase beloved of physics textbooks), “After some simple algebra…” kinda stuff.

  41. NickM says:

    Ian B,


    Well, first that doesn’t really answer my question about the tyranny of the “dress size”.

    But… Whilst you are sort of right I think it’s rather more complicated. Everyday we have the likes of Jane Moore celebrating “real women” (I translate – “utter mingers”) and from the mid-90s (due in part to J-Lo) a bit of “booty” has been “in”. In the practical respect of the bedroom I doubt it ever went out really…

    If I look back over my sordid (not quite as sordid as it ought to have been – alas!) past. I have shagged all sorts. I have a thing for the slyph-like Celtic fringe, the Anglo-Saxon middle and what lies beyond… I just like girls. This is why I think the idea of a “type” is silly. It is why my hareem would look like a Bennetton advert and why my teenage “type” – tall, slim/athletic, dark hair (Enya in the background) wound-up as a short blonde curvy woman who I got married to.

    I guess over all those years…

    …I can’t tell you. Too intimate.

    I wish I could. But I know what you mean about older porn. Personally I think the fellas are a distraction (and they do look dreadful) but whilst I like (and I know you were thinking it) it goes with “full bush” except for me I also like “shaven-havens” at least a bit of trimming does help with cunning linguistics. I mean pr0n stars just proj on (it’s the job) but reality is never pr0n.

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