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This is my third article on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), Here are the prior ones. Hopefully this one will be better.

The parts of MMT which are common sense, I claim to understand. That inflation is a limit to our Federal spending, I am fully on board with. It is dead obvious that we should partially fund government with issuance of new currency (we already do, so…), and we should do more until reaching the inflation target.

Power of a Currency Issuer

I have finished The Deficit Myth, but do not have sufficient clarity to agree with part of the thesis — that the Federal…


I have finished digesting Chapter 3 of The Deficit Myth, and I still don’t agree with its premise that the national debt is not a big problem. This follows up from a prior article of mine.

I believe the debt is a big problem, but this lacks relativism, so let me clarify — the scale of the problem is similar in overall scale to our Social Security obligations or Medicare obligations over the time frame in which the Baby Boomer generation is still alive. …


Taking a break from my history reading, I wish to once again wear the hat of the armchair macroeconomist.

This will dive deeper into thoughts that originate from a Hacker News comment thread.

In these discussions, arguments jostle between two extremes — outlandish claims, and not-even-wrong claims. I have been told over and over again that our national debt load is not a problem. When pressed to defend this outlandish claim, I get statements of obvious fact that fails to move the conversation forward.

So a real book should clear this up, right? …


I mentioned this topic on this blog a few times:

Looking back at it, I might have neglected to properly link my primary posting I left on the subject, which was

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35648.20

The topic started re-surfacing due to interest from other people.

The idea has been described in other places.

There are also several academic papers describing multiple variations of the system. You can crawl the links in this post for them, he Stack Exchange question foremost. They are good contributions, almost all of them have have overlap with the versions I have discussed. There are some directions…


I am a fan of space guns as a means of lifting material off a planet and into space. These would work horribly for Earth, but the moon is the best place in the entire solar system to station a large-throughput launcher and catcher system… or at least that’s what I’m going to argue here.

I will indulge a little background before getting into some light math as a framework for my argument.

Background on Lunar Material Lifting

Rockets suck, and they suck uniquely when they have to carry all their propellant with them for a high Delta-V trip. …


This a futurology piece, the study of the future.

I will return to my theme here that most predictions are worthless. However, in the case of General Artificial Intelligence, and its corollary Superintelligence, the public discussion has large blindspots in this subject matter, in spite of a handful of very good often-repeated points. If you consider good futurology, there are a certain set of tools that are repeatedly used. You can categorize the public discussion on Superintelligence as “OMG, what if A happens?”, where A is a particular scenario. This feeds into popular media sensationalism if A could spell the…


In the book Artemis by Andy Weir, people are ferried between the Earth and moon aboard space liners that follow “cycler” trajectories. Weir puts lots of effort into worldbuilding research, and the lunar cycler is one example. On the scale of Artemis, the cycler would be a very scientifically attractive concept for passenger transport.

On one point, however, he was deeply wrong — that the cycler is easy to understand. The protagonist claims to be able to work out the details, and even do the math in her head. In my experience, the lunar cycler is a monumentally non-obvious concept.


This post expands on the space-elevator-alternative launch system that uses an orbital electromagnetic track to catch a suborbital payload. A major shortcoming of the idea is the lack of an obvious momentum source for the track to regain the momentum it loses when picking up its payload.

For a while I have toyed with the idea of a full orbital ring that is interlocking with another orbital ring going in another direction. For nomenclature, we will mentally assume that the orbit it around Earth’s equator, thus we simply have West-moving and East-moving parts.

Basic sketch of the scheme I want…


The mathematically optimal solution for the lowest-fuel trajectory to drive a rocket from one point on a planetary body to another (in vacuum) is a question that is easily settled. A simple ballistic trajectory (an elliptical orbit) that goes from point A to point B with the apogee in the center of the two will do the job.

In the real world, however, we maximize profits, not propellant.

Fully Ballistic (and Deadly) Trips

For the case of Earth point-to-point passenger transit, the optimal solution has a tiny inconvenience that it would kill all the passengers on board for most randomly selected trips. Reentry is not…


In 2003, I had just started in an engineering program. The pivotal technical core classes were still several semesters in the future, but I wasted no time enrolling in a single-credit (1/3rd to 1/4th of full credit) intro class, ENG 101. This stuck with me, and not all in a good way.

I still remember 3 specific case-studies the class presented like it it was yesterday because they have simmered, festered, rotted in my mind.

  • The Gibraltar Bridge
  • The Freedom Ship
  • Tokyo Millennium Tower

The presentation came in the form of questions — what are the engineering considerations of these…

Alan

Obligatory analytical writing, online participation account for Medium. Engineering, software, books, space, constant daydreaming.

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