Best Day Ever?

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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79 Responses

  1. Avatar kenB says:

    Attempt to come to terms with the fact that everything I thought I knew about the difference between truth and fiction was utterly wrong.Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    Go to the bathroom.Report

  3. Avatar Kim says:

    Peek out my window, looking for the nazi tanks rolling down the streets.Report

  4. Avatar Mo says:

    Dare people to tug on my cape.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Maintain my secret identity while, at the same time, using my newly-acquired gifts to become a thorn in the side of The Man.

    “Police officers fired more than 400 shots according to casings found at the scene but not a single bullet hit the occupants of the wrong house raid.”

    Once my skills grow, maybe expand from defense to offense.

    “Video footage has surfaced of the DA and police officers colluding to ‘get their story straight’ about video footage that had surfaced last week showing them colluding.”

    But, most importantly, MAINTAIN THE SECRET IDENTITY.

    You don’t want people asking you for stuff. That’s just a pain in the ass.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      I approve of this.

      All the superheroes in comics seem focused on protecting people from crime. We need a hero who protects people from the cops.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        Agreed. Though I think the focus on crime in any respect sounds like an inefficient use of time. Most crime is small-time stuff in the grand scheme of things. Sure, you have occasional school shootings and such, but most of the time you’re going to be saving cats from trees.Report

  6. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Completely off-topic remark, but some aspects of the site work better if the post has an actual non-null title…Report

  7. Avatar j r says:

    What does it mean to wake up as Superman? Do I look like superman or do I still have my same rapidly expanding old-man belly?

    I can think of all sorts of worthwhile things that I could do with superpowers as a teenager or in my twenties. As I approach 40 though, the superpower that I most want is to be able to keep drinking beer and still fit into the pants that I bought two years ago.

    I guess being faster than a speeding bullet might have some advantages, but my wife is just going to think of something else to ask me to do after I’ve taken out the recyclables in the blink of an eye.Report

  8. Avatar North says:

    More information needed.
    Have I acquired a superman visual physique?
    Which superman are we talking about; the Supermans run the gamut from casually flying around the solar system and being able to turn the planet backwards all the way down to being able to leap over buildings and be stronger than a 1940’s speeding locomotive?

    First thought that springs to mind. Horror that sexual activity has now become lethal to my husband and probably people within a near vicinity and likely highly productive (in the worst possible way) to women within a larger radius of the event.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      My assumption is that you wake up and you look pretty much exactly like you looked yesterday (within a day’s margin of error) but you are now capable of pulling crap like a Superman from any given issue of 1960’s or 1970’s Action Comics (which means that you’re not only deus ex machina Superman but also a Flash variant).

      I hope that I don’t need to change these assumptions because my answer is built on them and I’d hate to have to re-write it.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Hmm okay well then my non pedantic answers in no absolute order:
        -Fly out to visit Jaybird and Maribou, pet their cats, hang out and play some games.
        -Watch project runway with the Doc and Rose.
        -Fly out to visit Zic and the Doc and get cheap cheap sweet sweet lobster.
        -Buy Professor Hanley the drink I owe him.
        -Buy Jason K the four drinks I owe him.

        Then once I had my fun I’d drop by Mad Rocket Scientist and ask: “You have available a massively powerful, versatile* and reusable low cost earth to orbit launch engine. What can we build in orbit that’s better humanity and make us (or whatever group of experts you’d recommend) both filthy rich?”

        *no not that way pervs.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’ll need to get ingredients! Are you allergic to anything?

        I mean, that’s probably moot if you’re Superman…Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        What can we build in orbit that’s better humanity and make us (or whatever group of experts you’d recommend) both filthy rich?”

        Advocates finally get to try out a space elevator :^) Although you’d have to get him to produce a bazillion poundss of carbon nanotube thread first — should be a piece of cake for someone who can squeeze coal into diamonds.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Presumably, as a Kryptonian, his immune system would react hostilely to Earth allergens, and it would be turbocharged like the rest of him by the yellow sun. Supersneezes and Superhives are probably no fun.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        “You have available a massively powerful, versatile* and reusable low cost earth to orbit launch engine. What can we build in orbit that’s better humanity and make us (or whatever group of experts you’d recommend) both filthy rich?”

        First things first, weep tears of joy.

        Then, elevator. Having Superman on hand should help to iron out the political hairball. And being able to easily get the spools of cable into orbit easy peasy will offset a rather large chunk of the total cost. Having superman help to dig the base anchors would also help a lot as well. Then it’s just keep the nutjobs away long enough to build our Elevator of Babylon & smooth out the engineering challenges.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Jaybird: No nothing I’m aware of though I have a creeping suspiscion that kryptonie would be no beuno.

        Glyph: The original superman didn’t seem to have a problem with allergies. Probably his immune cells just crush allergens into nothingness long before they felt daunted enough to trigger a body wide reaction.

        MRS/Mike: I suspected as much but wanted to hear from the experts. It seems to me there’s plenty of equatorial international water we could build an artificial island on for an anchor site so politics should be easy as pie. I have a fear that making that much nanotube by hand would be boring as heck though.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        No worries, SuperNorth, thar be machines fer that.

        If we have a cheap way to get the spools in orbit, then I figure it won’t be long before we have people ready to scale up nanotube production.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist You’re going to write some sort of post about this, right? I want to figure out how excited to get.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @don-zeko

        Michael Cain & I were talking about that in another thread, but here is the short of it.

        If anyone can do, Skunkworks can. However, Lockheed is also known for sucking up government money like an F5 tornado & with similar results.

        So while I remain optimistic, I won’t be giving up breathing or sex waiting for it.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        @north
        These days most elevator planners seem to assume a floating anchor. The 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones (UN treaty, US is a signatory) eliminates almost anywhere that’s feasible to build an artificial island. A relatively new question about an elevator is whether or not the ribbon/cable will shed carbon nanotube fragments; those are turning out to be much more toxic when ingested or inhaled than previously thought, and by design, they break down very slowly so accumulate in the environment over time.

        MRS is more confident than I am in the Skunk Works®. Their reputation is such that I would probably take the chance, but I’d want Lockheed to have considerable skin in the game. A lot of very smart people have, at one time or another, claimed to have better magnetic confinement schemes [1] — but all of them have turned out to have unanticipated points of leakage or instability modes when you crank the plasma temperatures and densities up.

        [1] University of Washington researchers will be presenting work tomorrow on their spheromak design, which they claim is inherently stable and doesn’t require super-conducting electromagnets.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @michael-cain

        Re: floating base – that is true, the base does not have to be solidly anchored, and there is considerable advantage to a base that is free to move around a bit (i.e. dodging orbital debris large enough to damage things). You would want to make sure that it didn’t move around willy-nilly, but that is a pretty simple problem.

        Re: Shedding material – that is an interesting wrinkle. I suspect that a coating of some type would do a lot to eliminate or severely reduce the risk of such, but that is just me speculating. I’d have to read up on the topic more to have a better answer.

        Re: LM & SW – Perhaps I am a bit more optimistic, but that is only because SW is a relatively close-mouthed bunch with a reputation for pulling off some pretty impressive engineering work. If they are making such a public statement, and thus putting that reputation on the line, I’m betting they have had a significant breakthrough of some type, enough of one that even if the timeline is optimistic, they will be moving the ball down the field quite a bit.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @michael-cain

        How much you want to bet that the UW design & the LM-SW design have a lot of things in common?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist and other smart folks,

        If I understand correctly, a space elevator requires a station in low earth orbit, and if I understand correctly, things in low earth orbit tend to fall out of orbit. Do I understand either or both of these incorrectly, and if not, is there a solution to this problem that I don’t understand?Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Mike, MRS, yeah I’m just suspending judgement on the Fusion deal until more information comes out. I will not lie though, my heart skipped a beat and hope stirred for a moment. Could it do so easy? Could we be so fortunate? I also felt a great disturbance in the force; the sound of dozens of fossil fuel companies and AGW activists crying out in horror.. and then falling silent.

        Regarding island anchors, for some reason I always feel wierd about the idea of a big boat anchoring a space elevator. I mean hello? It’ll just get pulled into the air. This is nonsense of couse- I know that on an intellectual level. Like MRS I suspect that fillment pollution concerns would be mostly ameliorated by a coating of some sort.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @james-hanley

        A space elevator requires a base, a midpoint station, and a counter weight.

        Base is at sea level near the equator. Midpoint station is at Geosynchronous orbit (~26,200 miles above sea level). Counterweight is out past that.

        Geosynch is the altitude at which an object in orbit is moving at a speed such that it remains fixed above a point on the earths surface (the orbital period = 1 earth rotation = 1 day). Objects at geosynch can fall out of orbit, but it takes a very long time, so orbital corrections are doable. Objects in low earth orbit (LEO) have orbital periods measured in minutes or hours (~90 minutes is typical), although even then orbital decay takes time & can be corrected given sufficient reaction mass.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @north

        To be fair, it would need to be a very big ‘boat’, possibly larger than some of those mega-super-cruise ships, and it would never be able to take time off for a trip to dry dock for repairs (sea water being quite corrosive), so it would have to be maintainable at sea.

        So in reality, it would be a floating, man made island.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Okay so a floating city more than anything. Seasteading with an actual plausible industry attached.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Sounds like a good use for those aircraft carriers I keep hearing will one day be obsolete….Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist
        How much you want to bet that the UW design & the LM-SW design have a lot of things in common?

        I’ve skimmed through the stuff both have online. The Lockheed design has superconducting electromagnet coils, the UW design does not; the plasma geometries look very different; so fairly radical differences in containment theory. Other than that, of course, all contained plasma designs look similar in concept — a shell into which neutrons slam, transferring kinetic energy and heating the shell, plus some system to transfer the heat to a working fluid to drive a turbine. Hero would recognize the basic principle.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @michael-cain

        Where did you lay eyes on the SW design?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Sounds like a good use for those aircraft carriers I keep hearing will one day be obsolete….

        More likely a bigger version of the largest oil/gas facilities. Look up Shell’s Prelude project, currently under construction — largest floating object ever built. Shell’s designing an even bigger one. In operation, Prelude will weigh about as much as six carriers. Designed to ride out a category five hurricane/typhoon, which wouldn’t be an issue positioned on the equator. Nuclear carriers might be useful for towing it into position, though…Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist
        The Aviation Week piece is the best resource I’ve found, and includes pictures/drawings from Lockheed, as well as material apparently from their own interview. The drawing is pretty clearly a magnetic bottle arrangement, rather than any sort of toroid.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        “You have available a massively powerful, versatile* and reusable low cost earth to orbit launch engine. What can we build in orbit that’s better humanity and make us (or whatever group of experts you’d recommend) both filthy rich?”

        First things first, weep tears of joy.

        Then, elevator. Having Superman on hand should help to iron out the political hairball. And being able to easily get the spools of cable into orbit easy peasy will offset a rather large chunk of the total cost. Having superman help to dig the base anchors would also help a lot as well. Then it’s just keep the nutjobs away long enough to build our Elevator of Babylon & smooth out the engineering challenges.

        I get that a space elevator would be cool, but how would it benefit humanity? In particular, the large portions of humanity that lack basic necessities and die of preventable diseases?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @katherinemw

        I direct you to Vikram’s post about poor countries in space.

        Also, cheap access to space opens up numerous industries & expands economies, which has the potential to lift more populations out of abject poverty.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Katherine, almost every vision of post scarcity I can think of involve at least one of two things: access to the enormous material and energy resources of space or nanomachines that verge on magical. The latter is not particularly close to fruition at this time but with a space elevator the former takes significant leaps closer in feasibility. Asteroid mining, zero g manufacturing and the energy resources of unfiltered space all represent steps that’d produce massive gains in wealth for humanity as a whole and also would be removing huge environmental stressors from Earth.

        Also, in the longest run we have a biological/moral imperative and responsability to our native biosphere to escape this solar system and carry it with us to other worlds.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      probably people within a near vicinity and likely highly productive (in the worst possible way) to women within a larger radius of the event.

      Ewwww.

      Wear a raincoat, people, we have precipitation coming in from the North.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      MRS,
      Does the counterweight keep the orbit from decaying, then?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Partially. The orbit can still decay, even with a counter weight.

        The CW is there to keep the center of mass of the system located near the geosynch station. Without the CW, the orbit would decay very quickly.Report

  9. Avatar James Hanley says:

    X-ray vision, right? Ain’t it obvious what we’d all be doing?Report

  10. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I can fly, faster than a speeding bullet?

    Good, then I won’t be late for court.

    I have Super Intelligence? (Most people forget that not only is Superman way strong, he’s also way smart.)

    Awesome. I’ll conduct the best cross-examination ever.

    I have laser eye vision?

    The judge had better sustain all my objections, if he knows what’s good for him. 😉Report

  11. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Is this before or after I get together with Louis Lane?

    If before, I wash up, eat breakfast, and go to my job as a reporter or a superhero, break for lunch, do more work as a reporter or superhero, eat dinner, and do whatever Clark Kent/Superman does in his evening hours. Superman’s civillian identity was always a bit on the sedate side. Batman is much less mentally healthy but Bruce Wayne has a better nightlife than Clark Kent.

    If after, well this is a family blog.Report

  12. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    By the way, great set of books by Brandon Sanderson runs in a similar vein. The first is called Steelheart.Report

  13. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Breakfast and coffee on the Yucatan coast.

    I’d figure out everything else later.Report

  14. Avatar Pinky says:

    Five minutes after I wake up, Iran’s got no nuclear program. I’ll fly home (via Damascus) and spend the rest of the day cleaning up around the apartment.Report

  15. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    I leave the Earth and all humanity behind, and never look back.

    I begin searching for Doctor Manhattan, since we both reside in the same (DC) universe.

    We then collude to destroy Earth and all of humanity in the most complete, inescapable way possible.

    Then, we start the experiment of life again, somewhere else and hope for something better than humans.

    The End.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Jeez, even God found a handful of people worth saving.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

        But, I would be a fictional character, just like…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        God’s a pathetic softy, what with all that love and forgiveness bullshit.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

        “There are many pretty and winning things about the human race. It is perhaps the poorest of all the inventions of all the gods but it has never suspected it once. There is nothing prettier than its naive and complacent appreciation of itself. It comes out frankly and proclaims without bashfulness or any sign of a blush that it is the noblest work of God. It has had a billion opportunities to know better, but all signs fail with this ass. I could say harsh things about it but I cannot bring myself to do it – it is like hitting a child.”

        – Mark TwainReport

      • Avatar North says:

        Great, now instead of helping to build a space elevator I have to defend the earth against JHG and a naked blue man. Thanks Obama.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        “a naked blue man”

        I thought Tobias was never-nude…Report

  16. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I hate to steal the plot of a truly execrable film, but “pick up all the world’s nuclear weapons, hurl them into the sun” sounds good.

    Then start on doing the same with conventional weapons and their manufacturing facilities. It could take a while, but I’ve got super-speed.

    Once the number of weapons in the world has been massively reduced, the policy work on keeping them at sustained low or non-existent levels can begin. I can assist by guaranteeing protection to any nation which agrees to give up weapons and disband their armed forces. Again, super-speed – I can cover a lot of countries.

    Obviously, there’s some negative effects, particularly for the people who work for and/or invested in Lockheed Martin et al, but I think the benefits outweigh the costs. Governments can organize a stimulus and economic transition program similar to the switch from military to civilian products following WWII.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      I was a bit surprised that no one went this direction (though Pinky did mention eliminating Iran’s nuclear program).

      Also, remember that you can re-freeze however much of the polar ice caps you want by blowing on them. Because physics.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      I hate to steal the plot of a truly execrable film, but “pick up all the world’s nuclear weapons, hurl them into the sun” sounds good.

      I’d just park them on the Moon. We might need them some day.Report