Powering the lunar base, version 2

Part of my series on misconceptions in space journalism, which by this point we may as well admit is really just a paper thin cover for me to write a seemingly endless series of blogs on esoteric space topics. I’ve previously written a bit about powering a potential lunar base. The vision is that we want a decent sized, permanently occupied lunar base, probably at the lunar south pole. Generally speaking, the Moon “enjoys” 14 day (~340 hr) long days followed by 14 day long nights. This makes consistent levels of power a challenge over night. In particular, a solar+battery … Continue reading Powering the lunar base, version 2

Traffic Congestion and City Design

I have Thoughts about city design and traffic congestion, so I will write a blog. In terms of background, I did a bunch of transport economics when I worked at Hyperloop, including building a predictive demand model (yes, really!). I’ve also traveled to about 50 countries and taken every mode of transport imaginable from unicycle to helicopter. I lived in LA without a car for 7 years, walking or cycling everywhere. That said, I’m not a credentialed traffic engineer or town planner, which might not be a bad thing in this case. Let’s not bury the lede here. As pointed … Continue reading Traffic Congestion and City Design

Understanding the make-buy question in a growing Mars city

Part of the series on space stuff. It is a good intellectual exercise to create an intuitive diagram to communicate new ideas in a compact, succinct way. Edward Tufte has written the same book several times on the topic, which is a must read for anyone who wants to learn how to effectively communicate knowledge. Some time ago I created a diagram to understand how Mars autarky would progress from local manufacturing of bulk goods to more complex parts. It was not a good diagram and upon revisiting it even I found it confusing. I’m revisiting the topic here to … Continue reading Understanding the make-buy question in a growing Mars city

Maximizing resume SNR

This is a brief note about resumes and hiring. At Terraform Industries, I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting recently and it’s helped me crystallize a few ideas I’ve had in this area. This blog will change over time. Terraform Industries is hiring! Join us as we decarbonize our industrial economy by getting carbon from the air more cheaply than from the ground. First, the disclaimer. While I’ve been on both sides of the table with recruiting, I’m not an expert and I’ve only worked in a few narrow fields. My father happens to be a professional recruiter, though, and … Continue reading Maximizing resume SNR

Numerical convergence as a model for senescence

Aging and death is as inescapable as taxes and leaf blowers, but why? How? Despite millennia of obsession and billions of dollars in research, we’re still far from understanding the biochemical particulars of why we age and, ideally, how to stop it. I’m the opposite of an expert on anything biological but I saw an interesting numerical feature of aging data and will discuss it here. Aging and age-related diseases are responsible for the vast majority of negative impacts on quality of life, and healthcare expenditure. The graph below charts the Gompertz-Makeham law of mortality. Retaining the annual chance of … Continue reading Numerical convergence as a model for senescence

Terraform Industries Whitepaper

Cheaper hydrocarbons from CO2 direct air capture and sunlight. terraformindustries.com Executive Summary Terraform Industries is a bet on cheap solar, synthetic hydrocarbon supremacy, and hyperscale. The overarching goal is to zero out the net transport of carbon from the crust to the atmosphere and oceans as quickly as possible by displacing drilled natural gas production with direct atmospheric processing.  As solar power gets cheaper and oil becomes more scarce, at some point this decade it will be cheaper to extract carbon from the air than to drill mile-deep holes in the crust on the other side of the world.  Synthetic … Continue reading Terraform Industries Whitepaper

Scaling Carbon Capture

This blog is a follow up to So You Want To Start A Carbon Capture Company. In the last five months, the cadence of new entrants in this space, as well as new climate-focused funds, has only increased. This is a marked, though welcome, contrast to the now familiar dithering and lack of unified action at the international political level. Our entire civilization rests on our ability to harness ancient solar energy stored underground as reduced (i.e. not oxidized) carbon and capture the heat unleashed when we bring it into chemical equilibrium with the surface by combusting it in our … Continue reading Scaling Carbon Capture

Starship is Still Not Understood

Another entry into my blog series on countering misconceptions in space journalism. I discussed this post on The Space Show on November 5 2021. It has been exactly two years since my initial posts on Starship and Starlink. While the Starlink post has aged quite well, Starship is still not widely understood despite intervening developments. As usual, this blog represents my own opinions and I do not have any inside information. There is now an audio version of this blog. To catch you up, two years ago SpaceX unveiled their boilerplate full scale mockup of Starship. Starhopper had completed two … Continue reading Starship is Still Not Understood

Last minute trip to the Sierras

It was with dawning dread I realized I hadn’t camped overnight in the high Sierras since late 2015. I did attempt a family trip as recently as 2019 but we realized just before sleep time that we were downwind of a major wildfire and hastily retreated. Photos here. I also realized that I had left it too late in the season, with too much to do and too many responsibilities at home, to tackle my long term goal of finding a Class 2 route up Table Mountain. That would be fun but it would probably take a week to do … Continue reading Last minute trip to the Sierras