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Salute to Nellie Bly on January 25, 2023

  Last night, January 25, 2023 we in the JPL/Caltech Toastmasters Club celebrated the century-and-a-third anniversary of Nellie Bly’s most famous reporter’s feat.   It wasn’t the most important.   That might have been when she traveled thru Mexico in 1886–1887 and reported on conditions of the poor, which got her fleeing the country, one step ahead of the federales, out of the country—but those stories were compiled in the book Six Months in Mexico .   The stories brought important world support when the peasants eventually rose up against President Porfirio Diaz. The most important story might have come from Nellie acting strangely to herself committed to the asylum on Blackwell’s (now Roosevelt) Island by feigning insanity. Her exposés of conditions—later compiled as Ten Days in a Mad House (1887)—precipitated a grand-jury investigation of the asylum and helped bring about needed improvements in patient care.   The most important story might have been her stories as one of t

Deep-Sea Aquaculture Begins—Update

Near-shore fish-growing aquaculture (fish farms) has been a growing industry for several decades, but the industry has problems.   There have been buildups of pollution from feed, fish wastes, and chemicals.   A more immediate expensive problem for operators is that dense populations of cultured fish in polluted waters often fall prey to parasites such as sea lice.   One way to reduce these problems is to move fish-farm operations from the shallow near-shore waters out to the deep sea.   An additional clean-water benefit would be derived from moving steadily to different waters as done by a moving ship. A Chinese enterprise is doing just those things. The world’s first giant floating fish farm (the “Guoxin 1”) sailed from the eastern port city of Qingdao in China on May 20, 2022 to begin its sea trials. The ship holds 15 fish-culturing tanks, each tank bigger than two standard swimming pools.   The ship is expected to produce up to 3,700 tons (3,400 metric tons) of fish per year.

Deep-Sea Aquaculture Begins

 Near-shore fish-growing aquaculture (fish farms) has been a growing industry for some years, but the industry has problems.   There have been buildups of pollution from feed, fish wastes, and chemicals.   A more immediate expensive problem for operators is that dense populations of cultured fish in polluted waters often fall prey to parasites such as sea lice.   One way to reduce these problems is to move fish-farm operations from the shallow near-shore waters out to the deep sea.   An additional clean-water benefit would be derived from moving steadily to different waters as done by a moving ship. A Chinese enterprise is doing just those things. The world’s first giant floating fish farm (the “Guoxin 1”) sailed from the eastern port city of Qingdao in China on May 20, 2022 to begin its sea trials. The ship holds 15 fish-culturing tanks, each tank bigger than two standard swimming pools.   The ship is expected to produce up to 3,700 tons (3,400 metric tons) of fish per year. The

The Blended Body Race

  Several companies, from Airbus size down to entrepreneurial startups are developing blended body aircraft designs. (Think of an arrow head or a flattened lozenge with wings rather than a fat tube slung under the wings.) The reason for this development fever is that blended bodies could carry as much as 50% more cargo and the cargo would be easier to pack in a wide space rather than a long tube.   Combining that with continuing improvements in lighter materials and more efficient jet engines could increase total capabilities by not 50%, but 60 or 70%. The likely financial result will be much cheaper (hence more profitable) shipping of perishable foodstuffs from long distances.   Present shipping routes would also produce less global-warming carbon dioxide than existing flights. But, there are questions. The biggest question is when will enough money be committed to take the development risk to build and market this radical new type of commercial craft?   Worse, might the attem