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Gravity's Rainbow Reading Group | Sections 66-69 | Week 20

Alright, home stretch foax. This section's a beast. Hang in there and keep sharing your insights! All together now...
Section 66
"You will want cause and effect. All right." (663) What an opening - it's almost confrontational, mocking our need for clear narrative structure and causality.
We discover that Thanatz was tossed overboard in the same storm that sent Slothrop off the Anubis and off on his adventure with Frau Gnahb. Thanatz is rescued by someone even stranger - an unnamed Polish undertaker (think on the etymology of that word) who happens to be a lightening aficionado. I'll stop here and comment that, earlier, when Slothrop fell into the water before and after getting on the Anubis, it brought to mind the river Styx in Hades - another underworld. It washes clean one's identity and memory. Makes you forget who you are. And there's traditionally a ferryman, Charon, to help people cross it. Can't help but think that's who saved Thanatz here, carrying him from the land of the dead to the land of the unliving, the preterite detritus of WWII.
(An aside: Speaking of Styx, has anyone listened to Mr. Roboto recently? That song has some Gravity's Rainbow vibes.)
Our undertaker here is inspired by the Franklin myth and is trying to get struck by lightening in order to experience that "singular point, [that] discontinuity in the curve of life" (664) passing from a rate of change of positive infinity to one of negative infinity in the blink of an eye. Seems there's something of a conspiracy among those who have been through this point of infinite inflection - a secret society of lightening heads who are aware not of another reality but of a new layer of reality laid on top of our own. Insight into a higher level of reality, of hidden systems.
We get an example of the content of the lightning-aficionado's publication A Nickel Saved and it's supposedly full of coded messages for Those Who Know, each part being a veiled reference to other topics that contain the true meaning, requiring a true paranoid's ability to see (make?) connections. For example, there are repeated mentions of April, Easter, and Spring - the season of rebirth. To an Amperage Contest and lightbulbs failing - Byron the Bulb's attempts to strike back, perchance? A screen-door salesman - what is a screen door except a permeable interface?
But our undertaker isn't interested in secret knowledge - he just wants to be a better businessman - and he deposits Thanatz on the shore and rows back off into the storm. Here, Thanatz meets a group of 175s - men formerly imprisoned in the Dora camp for being gay - who have formed their own solitary community in this isolated section of northern Germany.
I suspect some of this imagery may initially shock readers - concentration camp victims who want to return to their prison? Who set up their own 175-Stadt to recreate the conditions of their imprisonment? But think about it - just last section, we saw Katje, someone who's been used and abused by those in power, balk at the thought of being truly free because she had become dependent on systems of control. She had integrated those control systems as part of her identity, her sense of self. "She needs the whip," Blicero wrote of her (662). Just like Katje, these men became so conditioned to depend on a system of total control and rigid social hierarchies that they don't know how to function without it. Their 175-Stadt doesn't seem like such a ridiculously dark, inappropriate caricature now, does it? Because isn't that a central point of this book - that everyone has been conditioned to need control, to need Their System, to not know how to function without it? Slothrop was our perfect everyman from within this system, and look at what it took for him to actually be free (and even then, the ideal of America still has a colonial outpost in his head). But in their 175-Stadt, these men at least control their system of control. They built it, they staff every level of it, and it's entirely under their control. An isolated state, separate from the broader System. But is there a ruler in this system, a king? No, simply the figment of Blicero. His name, his specter, looming over everything. A system of control with no real king? We've seen that before.
Not only that, but this micro-society is not based strictly on the SS command from Dora, but what the prisoners inferred about the rocket command structure in the Mittelwerke. So even their "recreation" of their imprisonment is an approximation of a different system. I'd also stop here to comment that, is this imagery really as ridiculous/insane as it first appears? I'd say no, since the queeS&M community absolutely took inspiration from Nazi uniforms as symbols of dominance and control, repurposing it into fetishwear. But then, as in this 175-Stadt, the control is by choice, as is the submission. As we've seen elsewhere in this book (Blicero's Oven-State), turning submission into a fetish can be a form of rebellion, since it subverts Their means of control (fear of pain) and turns it into a source of pleasure. Is it truly control if you're choosing it? Enjoying it? No one said this book asks easy questions of its readers...
Thanatz keeps looking for answers, and gets swept up amidst the vast swarms of preterite Displaced Persons being shifted across the zone. What's concerning is that these supposedly-free, albeit displaced, people, are shuffled without purpose across the Zone, with minimal food, water, or medicine, being "herded into wire enclosure[s]" and shipped around in freight cars, "deloused, poked, palpated, named, numbered, consigned, invoiced, misrouted, detained, ignored" (669). It's almost impossible to miss the painful similarity here to the treatment of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust. Only here the mistreatment isn't out of some pathological hatred, simply a system without a place for so many people, and without the committed resources to actually, effectively help them. The thought is unsettling, since we like to imagine that only Naziesque hatred could prompt such brutal mistreatment, not apathy.
Finally, he's rescued by the Schwarzkommando thanks to his knowledge of Blicero and the firing of Rocket 00000. Here, we learn a bit more about what happened that day. Looking into Blicero's eyes, he saw windmills reflected, though none were in the area. Another four-way mandala, like we saw last week with Slothrop. Thanatz isn't in great mental shape by this point, and he's beginning to equate Gottfried and Bianca both as his children. Why? Because he felt some sense of responsibility to them? Because he failed them? Either way, the Schwarzkommando learn all they need from him about that fateful noon on the Heath, though we do not. The section ends with a simple touch of hands between Enzian and Christian, a moment of connection, of trust.
Section 67
Man, how do I even start summarizing this complete doozy of a section? As Weissenburger writes, "In this episode the narration begins to fragment." (344) Ya don't say... Well, here goes.
We being one serious trip of a section with Slothrop, as part of a rather unimpressive team of quasi-superheros (the "Floundering Four") fighting against evil ol' Broderick Slothrop amidst the factory-state (a Metropolis-like iteration of the Rocket-State with movable buildings?!). Broderick, in the role of comic book supervillain, keeps trying to off Slothrop, but our hero has a lucky streak just wide enough to keep him alive.
Right off the bat, we see another image of the chessboard - the whole factory-state is laid out in a grid, and it's all A Game of Chess, as der Springer already informed us, and our movements are limited. Crucially, "Your objective is not the King - there is no King - but momentary targets such as the Radiant Hour." (674) How can you win at chess when there's no King? How can the land be restored and the cycle renewed if there's no King to die and be replaced?
Slothrop is joined by a truly slipshod lot: Myrtle Miraculous, the only one who seems to have actual powers; Maximilian, a suave Black club manager who can flow with all natural rhythms and thus able to navigate any scenario with ease, and Marcel, a mechanical chess player (an embodiment of the Mechanical Turk, but crucially, one without the hidden human operator. No hidden Grandmaster lurking inside Marcel here - nope, this android's the real deal.
This section includes one of my favorite quotes from the book: "Decisions are never really made - at best they manager to emerge, from a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all-round assholery." (676) I can think of several times where I've been able to relate to that scenario all too well.
Their chances for success and failure are equal, but these opposing odds don't cancel each other out - instead, the two opposing forces just create a "loud dissonance". The crew undertake some truly hallucinatory adventures through the Racketen-Stadt which I will not attempt to summarize, as that would be an exercise in futility. But we are treated to flashes of Slothrop, "Broderick and Nalline's shadow-child, their unconfessed, their monster son," (677) getting locked in an icebox, piloting a mobile building through the grid-streets of the factory-state like a giant chess piece. One line really jumps out at me, here, that I think is important: "Their struggle is not the only, or even the ultimate one. Indeed, not only are there many other struggles, but there are also spectators, watching, as spectators will do, hundreds of thousands of them." (679) Makes me think of the "glozing neuters," mentioned earlier - of the masses of people who are just trying to live their lives, neither part of any conspiracy nor actively aware of being subject to one. Must be nice. At the same time, the idea of other, simultaneous struggles, is noteworthy - it brings to mind the concept of intersectionality, and how people realizing their unique, individual struggles share common sources, and common traits, which they can work together to fight.
We end this sub-section in an arena for these exact masses, where our heroes are on a stakeout, with Slothrop in full drag waiting in the Transvestites' Toilet for a message.
You may be wondering about the multiple instances of cross-dressing, in various iterations, throughout the book. Slothrop in drag and Blicero in a wig and merkin come to mind. One aspect, I'd say, is that it reflects a blending of two (as far as society is generally concerned) binary opposites. A crossing-over, a transgression against the status quo and an option other than 1 or 0.
Eliot, in his Notes on The Waste Land, wrote,
"Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a 'character', is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem." (Emphasis mine).
Cue Crutchfield the Westwardman's world of only one of everything. Likewise, the women in Gravity's Rainbow often blend together, share traits or imagery. So do the men. The joining of the two sexes in Blicero, as well as Slothrop here at the end, is significant.
The Low-Frequency Listeners
The introduction here of the character of Rohr, the Keeper of the Antenna, specifically as a Jehovah's witness, was odd. It's such a specific subsect of Christianity. Then we see - he heard a man on the radio, dying, asking for a priest. Rohr says, "Should I have got on and told him about priests? Would he've found any comfort in that?" (682). In what? I had to look it up, but when I did, it clicked - Jehovah's witnesses apparently do not have priests, because they are all ordained. There is no separate priest caste in their church, and thus no Preterite/Elect division. In this section, we also learn that the Nuremberg trials are getting underway.
Mom Slothrop's Letter to Ambassador Kennedy
You start to feel even more sorry for Slothrop as you realize just how terrible his parents apparently were. His mom cares enough to at least write another letter asking Ambassador Kennedy as to what the hell happened to their son, but her letter quickly devolves into drunken ramblings complaining about striking workers and managing to make an innuendo about Jack Kennedy while also dismissing her love of her sons. Oof. Maybe Otto was right with his conspiracy of mothers...
On the Phrase "Ass-Backwards"
An entertaining linguistic debate between Säure and Slothrop on American idioms, specifically ones involving a reversal, as in the case of "ass-backwards". The section then slips into a story of Säure, in his youth, breaking into the home of a young woman, Minnie, who is unable to hear or pronounce umlauted letters, and thus manages to shout the word "helicopter" rather than "cute robber" well before the vehicle was ever invented. Her cry is heard by none other than a young aerodynamics student. The word is taken as a prophesy and a warning of the helicopter's symbol of the police state, with armed officers hanging out the sides, aiming down at their targets.
My Doper's Cadenza
It begins with a serenade from Bodine, and then an exploration of the tenement building "Der Platz" that is home to numerous drug addicts, dope peddlers, and general ne'er-do-wells. They are building an anti-police moat around the building, entirely underground so as to avoid detection, saving breaking through the street for the end.
Shit 'n' Shinola
Another idiomatic diversion for Säure. A beautiful line is tucked away in here - "from outside, the Hall is golden, the white gold precisely of one lily-of-the-valley petal in 4 o'clock sunlight, serene, at the top of an artificially-graded hill." (687) This building, the Schein-Aula (Seeming-Hall), suggests "persistence, through returns of spring, hopes for love, melting snow and ice, academic Sunday tranquillities, smells of grass just crushed or cut or later turning to hay..." (688) Yet again, imagery of spring, of a return to life from the dead season of winter, of the cycle.
We return to the Roseland Ballroom, where shit 'n' Shinola do actually come together. "Shit, now, is the color white folks are afraid of. Shit is the presence of death, not some abstract-arty character with a scythe but the stiff and rotting corpse itself inside the whiteman's warm and private own asshole, which is getting pretty intimate. That's what that white toilet's for.... that white porcelain's the very emblem of Odorless and Official Death." (688) Here Pynchon cuts straight to the point - the almost pathological fear of death and its connections to fears of blackness, excrement. Shit, Death, and the Word. Edwin Treacle hit on this back on p. 276 when he tried to show his colleagues at the White Visitation "that their feelings about blackness were tied to feelings about shit, and feelings about shit to feelings about putrefaction and death." The cycle of life is too organic, too messy. Better to replace carbon with silicon, to hide shit with porcelain, to treat people with dark skin as "other" or sub-human to avoid acknowledging that their non-European, communal ways of life were, in fact, totally natural.
An Incident in the Transvestites' Toilet
Not King Kong, but a small, costumed ape comes up to Slothrop, who's wearing a Fay Wray dress while waiting in the bathroom for a still-unspecified message. We get a Miltonic blank-verse poem (thanks, Weissenburger!) about the movie King Kong, written in the voice of Anne Darrow (Fay Wray's character). It's honestly quite good - I love the line "in your own stone living space" - the internal rhyme there sounds really nice, and I like the riff on living stone / Livingston, both of which have popped up previously. In the poem, Darrow talks about when she was tied up, hung by the natives as an offering to "the night's one Shape to come" (689), echoing both Greta Erdman's scene in Alpdrücken and the Hanged Man card of the Tarot (willing sacrifice, sacrifice that prompts a return, a renewal of the cycle). Darrow says she prayed, "not for Jack," her suave costar, but for her director Carl Denham, "only him, with gun and camera... making the unreal reel / By shooting at it, one way or the other-" (689). Throughout GR, we've seen a film motif, and this really brings it home. The analogy of a gun to a camera, both of which make the unreal real (a camera creates films that interpret real life - the "unreal reel", a gun makes death, which we've blocked away and tried to avoid, real and inescapable). The director is in control of the movie, the actors, the story, of how it works and what is told. Darrow ends by asking Carl to "show me the key light, whisper me a line..." - a key light is used in cinema and photography to not just shed light on the subject, but to do so in a way that provides form and dimension to the subject and the scene. So Darrow is asking for the director to literally give her form and definition, to tell her what to say next.
This ape, though, isn't so Romantic as ol' Kong though, and is much more direct. It hands Slothrop an anarchist's bomb straight out of the comics pages, and takes off. Slothrop freezes and is saved by a helpful transvestite who takes the bomb and flushes it down the toilet. But it explodes anyway, sending geysers of water up out of all the toilets. A Voice comes out of he Loudspeaker informing everyone that it was, in fact, a sodium bomb that explodes upon contact with water. Tellls everyone to get the "dangerous maniac" who threw it. That was supposed to be Slothrop, but he was saved by his indecision and the kindness of a stranger, who is now set upon by the other occupants of the toilet.
A Moment of Fun with Takeshi and Ichizo, the Komical Kamikazes
We now jump to a pair of comically-mismatched Kamikaze pilots stationed on a remote island well away from any conflict. One flies a Zero, the other flies an "Ohka device" which is basically a rocket-bomb with a pilot's seat. They get moonshine from their radarman, Kenosho, who mocks them daily for the lack of opportunities to fly to their deaths and who comes up with haikus that, while in the right format, really miss the heart of what a haiku is supposed to be.
Back to Slothrop, now, and a catalogue of the streets he's traveled down and what he's seen. We get a meditation on the absurdity of army chaplains, who worked for the Army and "stood up and talked to the men who were going to die about God, death, nothingness, redemption, salvation." (693) And it does seem a bit absurd when you consider that the Army that employs the chaplains is the same entity sending the men off to die. We see a bus driver (perchance our maniac bus driver from earlier?) driving through town in the night, his passengers looking out the windows, their faces "drowned-man green, insomniac, tobacco-starved, scared, not of tomorrow, not yet, but of this pause in their night-passage, of how easy it will be to lose, and how much it will hurt..." (693) Going back to the Waste Land, the phrase "I do not find / The Hanged Man. Fear death by water." is symbolic of a death without return (drowning) contrasted to the sacrifice/return symbolized by The Hanged Man. These poor passengers, it seems, aren't to expect any return.
Slothrop also, at this point, learns of the bombing of Hiroshima from a discarded Army newspaper, the photo of the atomic blast placed in poor taste next to an image of a pin-up girl. The bomb's mushroom cloud is compared to the Cross, to a capital-T Tree. But which tree? Is this a meditation on the deadly, unforgettable knowledge of how to split the atom, or of the tree of life, with the citizens of Hiroshima as a sacrifice made... but to what? I'm honestly not sure. Would love your thoughts.
Listening to the Toilet
As others have noted, this book in many ways is about the drug counterculture and hippie movement of the 60s/early 70s. This is the most overt in this section, in which we learn that listening for the cessation of the flow of water to the toilet in the pipes is a cue that a police raid is imminent - shutting off the water being a way to prevent the flushing of illicit substances. But it takes a special ear to hear the cessation of a subtle, pervasive white noise. What if the sun, in fact, massive furnace that it is, emits a constant, low-level roar that is so incessant we don't even hear it? What if eddies in the current of the Soniferous Aether cause rare spots of true quiet, where the noise is no longer transmitted and anyone in that spot can hear their own heartbeat it's so quiet? Interestingly, there are "quiet rooms" designed to absorb nearly all sound, used for precise sound calibration. I remember reading that most people can't sit in one of those rooms for more than 30 minutes or so because it's literally so quiet that you can hear the blood flowing through your veins, and people have even reported auditory hallucinations as a result. But why this digression? Maybe because we need to be asking what other white noise is out there that we've become completely deaf to? I think Roger and Jessica found a pocket of this quiet, early in the book, where the "noise" of modern society and all its associated obligations was muted by the War.
Witty Repartee
A return to our Komical Kamikazes, and a meditation on the ubiquity of the Hotchkiss machine gun across nations, independent of alliances. We get an image of a false King - an inbred idiot lying naked in a dumpster, attracting the attention of potential revolutionaries. But they can't decide if he's "a diversionary nuisance planted here by the Management, or whether he's real Decadent Aristocracy to be held for real ransom" (698). While the would-be revolutionaries are debating in the alley, sentries with the aforementioned Hotchkiss guns take positions on the rooftops, aiming down...
Heart-to-Heart, Man-to-Man
A dialogue here between Slothrop and ol' Broderick, with dear old dad interrogating his wayward son about a modern electric drug. Slothrop reassures him that he'd never shoot raw electricity - no, they dope themselves with waves. Major pre-Cyberpunk vibes here, with Broderick warning "Suppose someday you just plug in and go away and never come back?" to which Tyrone replies, "What do you think every electrofreak dreams about? .... Maybe there is a Machine to take us away, take us completely, suck us out through the electrodes out of the skull 'n' into the Machine and live there forever.... We can live forever, in a clean, honest, purified Electroworld-" (699). Matrix, anyone? Not to mention the waves of radio, TV, etc. and the simple, episodic, controlled reality they offer. Pleasantville also comes to mind, with all its commentary on the shows of the era.
Some Characteristics of Imipolex G
We learn that Imipolex G is the first erectile plastic, stiffening in response to certain electronic stimuli. The potential of a layer of controlling wires just under the outer layer of Imipolex, making it a second skin - a synthetic interface. Alternately, there's the potential to control it via a projection of "an electronic 'image; analogous to a motion picture." (700)
My gods, I made it through this section...
Section 68
Tchitcherine now, dealing with a spook, Nikolai Ripov, from the Commissariat for Intelligence Activities. His pal Džabajev has run off with "two local derelicts" (700) and is impersonating Frank Sinatra and wooing the ladies of the Zone. We get the line, "While nobles are crying in their nights' chains, the squires sing. The terrible politics of the Grail can never touch them. Song is the magic cape." (701) - Seems another example of folks recognizing the game, the Grail quest, for what it was and checking out - deciding not to play and just enjoy themselves while the Elect lose sleep over the endless searching.
Ripov explains to Tchitcherine how "the basic problem... has always been getting other people to die for you." (701) Religion used to serve as an effective control for that reason - death isn't quite as scary if you think you're going to heaven. But modern society has moved on, and needs more secular sources of control, like a commitment to "History" as if you're part of some great narrative, sacrificing yourself for some imagined end-goal of what society is "supposed" to be.
Seems Tchitcherine was doping on Oneirine theophosphate. Wimpe, his dealer, argues that a man is "only real at the points of decision. The time between doesn't matter." (702) Points man again - the moment of decision, of choice, that splits the future in two. Points of control. Contrast that to:
"Datta: what have we given? / My friend, blood shaking my heart / The awful daring of a moment’s surrender / Which an age of prudence can never retract / By this, and this only, we have existed." (The Waste Land, Part V: What the Thunder Said - emphasis mine).
Both are arguing that it's these key moments, irreversible junctures in our lives that make us real. Not what comes next, not what people say about us, just our moments. Integrate those moments, run them fast enough (say 24 frames per second) and you might even approximate something close to a person...
We learn that Oneirine apparently leads to "the dullest hallucinations known to psychopharmacology" (703) - hauntings of the mundane, the almost-normal.
Tchitcherine's Haunting
Tchitcherine hallucinates that Ripov is interrogating him, and he becomes fixated on the question of whether or not he was supposed to die. Seems like part of him wants to believe in life after death, in some hope for meaning, which goes against the Soviet doctrine and thus isn't exactly endearing him to those above him. Thankfully this is just an Oneirine haunting, except... wait, it's too real - no subtle violations of reality. He tries to escape, but is outnumbered. But no execution for him here - just a reassignment to Central Asia. A cold and operational death.
Section 69
"The dearest nation of all is one that will survive no longer than you and I, a common movement at the mercy of death and time: the ad hoc adventure." - Resolutions of the Gross Suckling Conference (706)
In other words, they seek a nation that does not function independently of its citizens - one that is not some separate identity with a quasi-personhood (much like how corporations are legally "people"). Rather, a nation that is inextricably linked to the people and that will die when they do. No immortality, no denial of the cycle or death.
But poor Roger's still dealing with Jessica, and now with Jeremy, too, who he's at least amicable with. But he's struggling with their acceptance of the System, their embracing of it. Jeremy's all about reassembling the rockets and firing them, asking "What else does one do with a rocket?" (note how disassembling it or at least not using the weapon isn't even an option...).
Jeremy's even so kind as to invite Roger to a fancy dinner with a bunch of corporate bigwigs, including folks from Krupp, ICI, and GE, and hosted by one Stefan Utgarthaloki, whose name should be a giant red-flag that something's amiss with this shindig. Roger picks Seaman Bodine as his date, the two having struck up a rather theatrical friendship, dress in their absurdist best (Bodine in the mother of all zoot suits), and join the party.
We get some insight here into the nature of rebellions, and the danger of them not only fizzling out or failing, but of being co-opted as a tool to "help legitimize Them" (713). Of either dying or "living on as Their pet" - it brings to mind the corporate branding of "rebelliousness" as cool, as "a phase" that it's normal to go through and eventually grow up from. Treating the idealism of youth, the desire to make the world better and to fight against the problems of the system before you become numb to them, as a normal phase of life is such an effective way to neutralize it culturally. How many people have heard the phrase "you get conservative [i.e. more resistant to change] as you get older"? How many of us have seen youth-led movements being dismissed as examples of immaturity, for example? Between that and companies stamping their logo on it (hello, Hot Topic), it's a way to change the cultural narrative around any movement against the status quo to one that's dismissive, just accepting enough to let people burn off their energy and eventually fall into line. Because how else can you continue to live a decent life in a society that refuses to change? You either go build a shack in the woods somewhere, die, or acclimate to the system and just focus on being comfortable yourself, not constantly fighting for change. It's a depressing thought, and I'm sure Pynchon saw a lot of that attitude in the 60s. I have to wonder - do non-industrialized societies have "teenage rebellion" as a normal part of life? Is that a part of human nature, like we tend to think, or is it an explicit reaction to reaching maturity in a system that is anti-human and anti-nature?
Anyway, back to the dinner party - between the depressing, anti-social music (kazoos?!) and the lavish dinner, things seem fine, but there's a plot against the Roger and Bodine. Fortunately a journalist, Constance, tips off Bodine that they might just be the main course of this feast, so Bodine cues Roger to begin the evening show - an absurd gross-out session that they planned in advance with the aid of now-deceased Pudding communicating via medium Carroll Eventyr. The pair recite an increasingly disgusting list of alliterative dishes, triggering "well-bred gagging" and guests to flee, though a few find it all quite entertaining. But it's enough to break up the dinner party and allow our heroes to flee.
Note: If you made it this far, actually read all this, thank you. Bloom warned me this was a longer section, and boy, he wasn't kidding. I think this is longer than some college essays I wrote... Damn fun, though, and I hope you've found my thoughts informative, interesting, useful, or if nothing else, sufficiently diversionary for a spell. I truly look forward to seeing what you other fine foax have to say on these labrynthine sections.
  1. In the lightning-aficionado's "A Nickel Saved" excerpt, are there any other references or hidden ideas you can find? I have to think there are.
  2. What is the meaning of the windmill reflected in Blicero's eyes? How do you interpret the imagery in this scene in general?
  3. 175-Stadt. Oven-State. Hund-Stadt. Rocket-State. Factory-State. We've seen numerous examples of specialized micro-states across the Zone, experiments in different forms of society. What are your thoughts on these? Are they hints at ways to find alternate societies, or manifestations of humanity's tendency to divide by category and put of fences?
  4. In the "Shit 'n' Shinola" subsection, Pynchon connects Jack Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Tyrone Slothrop. What do you make of this intersection?
  5. In "Streets," the bombing of Hiroshima is presented as being similar to the Cross, "it is also, perhaps, a Tree..." - the capitalized "Tree" here could be the tree of knowledge, the tree of life, the tree from which the Hanged Man dangles, or perhaps something else. What's your interpretation of this imagery?
  6. In Section 69, we see references to the Albatross, famous symbol from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It's presented that Slothrop is the (now-plucked) albatross, but it's not clear who killed this bird, or who's wearing it around their neck. They? Any ideas?
submitted by KieselguhrKid13 to ThomasPynchon [link] [comments]

Ethereum on ARM. New Eth2.0 Raspberry Pi 4 image for joining the Medalla multi-client testnet. Step-by-step guide for installing and activating a validator (Prysm, Teku, Lighthouse and Nimbus clients included)

TL;DR: Flash your Raspberry Pi 4, plug in an ethernet cable, connect the SSD disk and power up the device to join the Eth2.0 medalla testnet.
The image takes care of all the necessary steps to join the Eth2.0 Medalla multi-client testnet [1], from setting up the environment and formatting the SSD disk to installing, managing and running the Eth1.0 and Eth2.0 clients.
You will only need to choose an Eth2.0 client, start the beacon chain service and activate / run the validator.
Note: this is an update for our previous Raspberry Pi 4 Eth2 image [2] so some of the instructions are directly taken from there.




You will need an SSD to run the Ethereum clients (without an SSD drive there’s absolutely no chance of syncing the Ethereum blockchain). There are 2 options:
Use an USB portable SSD disk such as the Samsung T5 Portable SSD.
Use an USB 3.0 External Hard Drive Case with a SSD Disk. In our case we used a Inateck 2.5 Hard Drive Enclosure FE2011. Make sure to buy a case with an UASP compliant chip, particularly, one of these: JMicron (JMS567 or JMS578) or ASMedia (ASM1153E).
In both cases, avoid getting low quality SSD disks as it is a key component of your node and it can drastically affect the performance (and sync times). Keep in mind that you need to plug the disk to an USB 3.0 port (in blue).
1.- Download the image:
SHA256 149cb9b020d1c49fcf75c00449c74c6f38364df1700534b5e87f970080597d87
2.- Flash the image
Insert the microSD in your Desktop / Laptop and download the file.
Note: If you are not comfortable with command line or if you are running Windows, you can use Etcher [10]
Open a terminal and check your MicroSD device name running:
sudo fdisk -l
You should see a device named mmcblk0 or sdd. Unzip and flash the image:
sudo dd bs=1M if=ubuntu-20.04.1-preinstalled-server-arm64+raspi.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 conv=fdatasync status=progress
3.- Insert de MicroSD into the Raspberry Pi 4. Connect an Ethernet cable and attach the USB SSD disk (make sure you are using a blue port).
4.- Power on the device
The Ubuntu OS will boot up in less than one minute but you will need to wait approximately 7-8 minutes in order to allow the script to perform the necessary tasks to install the Medalla setup (it will reboot again)
5.- Log in
You can log in through SSH or using the console (if you have a monitor and keyboard attached)
User: ethereum Password: ethereum 
You will be prompted to change the password on first login, so you will need to log in twice.
6.- Forward 30303 port in your router (both UDP and TCP). If you don’t know how to do this, google “port forwarding” followed by your router model. You will need to open additional ports as well depending on the Eth2.0 client you’ve chosen.
7.- Getting console output
You can see what’s happening in the background by typing:
sudo tail -f /valog/syslog
8.- Grafana Dashboards
There are 5 Grafana dashboards available to monitor the Medalla node (see section “Grafana Dashboards” below).

The Medalla Eth2.0 multi-client testnet

Medalla is the official Eth2.0 multi-client testnet according to the latest official specification for Eth2.0, the v0.12.2 [11] release (which is aimed to be the final) [12].
In order to run a Medalla Eth 2.0 node you will need 3 components:
The image takes care of the Eth1.0 setup. So, once flashed (and after a first reboot), Geth (Eth1.0 client) starts to sync the Goerli testnet.
Follow these steps to enable your Eth2.0 Ethereum node:
We need to get 32 Goerli ETH (fake ETH) ir order to make the deposit in the Eth2.0 contract and run the validator. The easiest way of getting ETH is by joining Prysm Discord's channel.
Open Metamask [14], select the Goerli Network (top of the window) and copy your ETH Address. Go to:
And open the “request-goerli-eth” channel (on the left)
!send $YOUR_ETH_ADDRESS (replace it with the one copied on Metamask)
You will receive enough ETH to run 1 validator.
Now it is time to create your validator keys and the deposit information. For your convenience we’ve packaged the official Eth2 launchpad tool [4]. Go to the EF Eth2.0 launchpad site:
And click “Get started”
Read and accept all warnings. In the next screen, select 1 validator and go to your Raspberry Pi console. Under the ethereum account run:
cd && deposit --num_validators 1 --chain medalla
Choose your mnemonic language and type a password for keeping your keys safe. Write down your mnemonic password, press any key and type it again as requested.
Now you have 2 Json files under the validator_keys directory. A deposit data file for sending the 32 ETH along with your validator public key to the Eth1 chain (goerli testnet) and a keystore file with your validator keys.
Back to the Launchpad website, check "I am keeping my keys safe and have written down my mnemonic phrase" and click "Continue".
It is time to send the 32 ETH deposit to the Eth1 chain. You need the deposit file (located in your Raspberry Pi). You can, either copy and paste the file content and save it as a new file in your desktop or copy the file from the Raspberry to your desktop through SSH.
1.- Copy and paste: Connected through SSH to your Raspberry Pi, type:
cat validator_keys/deposit_data-$FILE-ID.json (replace $FILE-ID with yours)
Copy the content (the text in square brackets), go back to your desktop, paste it into your favourite editor and save it as a json file.
2.- Ssh: From your desktop, copy the file:
scp [email protected]$YOUR_RASPBERRYPI_IP:/home/ethereum/validator_keys/deposit_data-$FILE_ID.json /tmp
Replace the variables with your data. This will copy the file to your desktop /tmp directory.
Upload the deposit file
Now, back to the Launchpad website, upload the deposit_data file and select Metamask, click continue and check all warnings. Continue and click “Initiate the Transaction”. Confirm the transaction in Metamask and wait for the confirmation (a notification will pop up shortly).
The Beacon Chain (which is connected to the Eth1 chain) will detect this deposit (that includes the validator public key) and the Validator will be enabled.
Congrats!, you just started your validator activation process.
Time to choose your Eth2.0 client. We encourage you to run Lighthouse, Teku or Nimbus as Prysm is the most used client by far and diversity is key to achieve a resilient and healthy Eth2.0 network.
Once you have decided which client to run (as said, try to run one with low network usage), you need to set up the clients and start both, the beacon chain and the validator.
These are the instructions for enabling each client (Remember, choose just one Eth2.0 client out of 4):
1.- Port forwarding
You need to open the 9000 port in your router (both UDP and TCP)
2.- Start the beacon chain
Under the ethereum account, run:
sudo systemctl enable lighthouse-beacon
sudo systemctl start lighthouse-beacon
3.- Start de validator
We need to import the validator keys. Run under the ethereum account:
lighthouse account validator import --directory=/home/ethereum/validator_keys
Then, type your previously defined password and run:
sudo systemctl enable lighthouse-validator
sudo systemctl start lighthouse-validator
The Lighthouse beacon chain and validator are now enabled

1.- Port forwarding
You need to open the 13000 and 12000 ports in your router (both UDP and TCP)
2.- Start the beacon chain
Under the ethereum account, run:
sudo systemctl enable prysm-beacon
sudo systemctl start prysm-beacon
3.- Start de validator
We need to import the validator keys. Run under the ethereum account:
validator accounts-v2 import --keys-dir=/home/ethereum/validator_keys
Accept the default wallet path and enter a password for your wallet. Now enter the password previously defined.
Lastly, set up your password and start the client:
echo "$YOUR_PASSWORD" > /home/ethereum/validator_keys/prysm-password.txt
sudo systemctl enable prysm-validator
sudo systemctl start prysm-validator
The Prysm beacon chain and the validator are now enabled.

1.- Port forwarding
You need to open the 9151 port (both UDP and TCP)
2.- Start the Beacon Chain and the Validator
Under the Ethereum account, check the name of your keystore file:
ls /home/ethereum/validator_keys/keystore*
Set the keystore file name in the teku config file (replace the $KEYSTORE_FILE variable with the file listed above)
sudo sed -i 's/changeme/$KEYSTORE_FILE/' /etc/ethereum/teku.conf
Set the password previously entered:
echo "yourpassword" > validator_keys/teku-password.txt
Start the beacon chain and the validator:
sudo systemctl enable teku
sudo systemctl start teku
The Teku beacon chain and validator are now enabled.

1.- Port forwarding
You need to open the 19000 port (both UDP and TCP)
2.- Start the Beacon Chain and the Validator
We need to import the validator keys. Run under the ethereum account:
beacon_node deposits import /home/ethereum/validator_keys --data-dir=/home/ethereum/.nimbus --log-file=/home/ethereum/.nimbus/nimbus.log
Enter the password previously defined and run:
sudo systemctl enable nimbus
sudo systemctl start nimbus
The Nimbus beacon chain and validator are now enabled.

Now you need to wait for the Eth1 blockchain and the beacon chain to get synced. In a few hours the validator will get enabled and put into a queue. These are the validator status that you will see until its final activation:
Finally, it will get activated and the staking process will start.
Congratulations!, you join the Medalla Eth2.0 multiclient testnet!

Grafana Dashboards

We configured 5 Grafana Dashboards to let users monitor both Eth1.0 and Eth2.0 clients. To access the dashboards just open your browser and type your Raspberry IP followed by the 3000 port:
http://replace_with_your_IP:3000 user: admin passwd: ethereum 
There are 5 dashboards available:
Lots of info here. You can see for example if Geth is in sync by checking (in the Blockchain section) if Headers, Receipts and Blocks fields are aligned or find Eth2.0 chain info.

Updating the software

We will be keeping the Eth2.0 clients updated through Debian packages in order to keep up with the testnet progress. Basically, you need to update the repo and install the packages through the apt command. For instance, in order to update all packages you would run:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install geth teku nimbus prysm-beacon prysm-validator lighthouse-beacon lighthouse-validator
Please follow us on Twitter in order to get regular updates and install instructions.


submitted by diglos76 to ethereum [link] [comments]

Thisoption || A platform that needs to reckon with top tier

Thisoption || A platform that needs to reckon with top tier
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Website || Thisoption || Whitepaper || Telegram || Facebook || Medium

Author: u/thorex25
Disclaimer This article is not meant to give commercial or any other kind of advice. It is just an informative text at all.
submitted by dojogang to CryptoOasis [link] [comments]

[Table] Asteroid Day AMA – We’re engineers and scientists working on a mission that could, one day, help save humankind from asteroid extinction. Ask us anything!

There are several people answering: Paolo Martino is PM, Marco Micheli is MM, Heli Greus is HG, Detlef Koschny is DVK, and Aidan Cowley is AC.
Questions Answers
Can we really detect any asteroids in space with accuracy and do we have any real means of destroying it? Yes, we can detect new asteroids when they are still in space. Every night dozens of new asteroids are found, including a few that can come close to the Earth.
Regarding the second part of the question, the goal would be to deflect them more than destroy them, and it is technologically possible. The Hera/DART mission currently being developed by ESA and NASA will demonstrate exactly this capability.
I always wanted to ask: what is worse for life on Earth - to be hit by a single coalesced asteroid chunk, or to be hit by a multiple smaller pieces of exploded asteroid, aka disrupted rubble pile scenario? DVK: This is difficult to answer. If the rubble is small (centimetres to meters) it is better to have lots of small ones – they’d create nice bright meteors. If the rubble pieces are tens of meters it doesn’t help.
Let’s say that hypothetically, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island is coming at us, it will be a direct hit - you’ve had the resources and funding you need, your plan is fully in place, everything you’ve wanted you got. The asteroid will hit in 10 years, what do you do? DVK: I had to look up how big Rhode Island is – a bit larger than the German Bundesland ‘Saarland’. Ok – this would correspond to an object about 60 km in diameter, right? That’s quite big – we would need a lot of rocket launches, this would be extremely difficult. I would pray. The good news is that we are quite convinced that we know all objects larger than just a few kilometers which come close to our planet. None of them is on a collision course, so we are safe.
the below is a reply to the above
Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies? DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic:
There are additional studies to estimate the ‘completeness’ – and we think that we know everything above roughly a few km in size.
To find new objects, we use survey telescopes that scan the night sky every night. The two major ones are Catalina and Pan-STARRS, funded by NASA. ESA is developing the so-called Flyeye telescope to add to this effort
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.
the below is a reply to the original answer
What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua? DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.
Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever? DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page The ‘risky’ objects are in the ‘risk page’. We also put info on really close approaches there. It would also be very difficult to keep things ‘under cover’ – there are many high-quality amateur astronomers out there that would notice.
In 2029 asteroid Apophis will fly really close to Earth, even closer than geostationary satellites. Can we use some of those satellites to observe the asteroid? Is it possible to launch very cheap cube sats to flyby Apophis in 2029? DVK: Yes an Apophis mission during the flyby in 2029 would be really nice. We even had a special session on that topic at the last Planetary Defense Conference in 2019, and indeed CubeSats were mentioned. This would be a nice university project – get me a close-up of the asteroid with the Earth in the background!
the below is a reply to the above
So you’re saying it was discussed and shelved? In the conference we just presented ideas. To make them happen needs funding - in the case of ESA the support of our member countries. But having something presented at a conference is the first step. One of the results of the conference was a statement to space agencies to consider embarking on such a mission. See here:
Go to the section 'resolutions'. This is now a statement that scientists can use to present to their funding agencies, demonstrating that it's not just their own idea.
Thanks for doing this AMA! Did we know the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 (the one which had some great videos on social media) was coming? Ig not, how comes? Also, as a little side one, have there been any fatalities from impact events in the past 20 years? Unfortunately, the Chelyabinsk object was not seen in advance, because it came from the direction of the Sun where ground-based telescopes cannot look.
No known fatalities from impacts have happened in the past 20 years, although the Chelyabinsk event did cause many injuries, fortunately mostly minor.
the below is a reply to the above
How often do impacts from that direction happen, compared to impacts from visible trajectories? In terms of fraction of the sky, the area that cannot be easily scanned from the ground is roughly a circle with a radius of 40°-50° around the current position of the Sun, corresponding to ~15% of the total sky. However, there is a slight enhancement of objects coming from that direction, therefore the fraction of objects that may be missed when heading towards us is a bit higher.
However, this applies only when detecting an asteroid in its "final plunge" towards the Earth. Larger asteroids can be spotted many orbits earlier, when they are farther away and visible in the night side of the sky. Their orbits can then be determined and their possible impacts predicted even years or decades in advance.
There must be a trade-off when targeting asteroids as they get closer to Earth, is there a rule of thumb at what the best time is to reach them, in terms of launch time versus time to reach the asteroid and then distance from Earth? DVK: Take e.g. a ‘kinetic impactor’ mission, like what DART and Hera are testing. Since we only change the velocity of the asteroid slightly, we need to hit the object early enough so that the object has time to move away from it’s collision course. Finding out when it is possible to launch requires simulations done by our mission analysis team. They take the strength of the launcher into account, also the available fuel for course corrections, and other things. Normally each asteroid has its own best scenario.
Do you also look at protecting the moon from asteroids? Would an impact of a large enough scale potentially have major impacts on the earth? DVK: There are programmes that monitor the Moon and look for flashes from impacting small asteroids (or meteoroids) - https://neliota.astro.noa.g or the Spanish MIDAS project. We use the data to improve our knowledge about these objects. These programmes just look at what is happening now.
For now we would not do anything if we predicted a lunar impact. I guess this will change once we have a lunar base in place.
Why aren't there an international organisation comprised of countries focused on the asteroid defence? Imagine like the organisation with multi-billion $ budget and program of action on funding new telescopes, asteroid exploration mission, plans for detection of potentially dangerous NEA, protocols on action after the detection - all international, with heads of states discussing these problems? DVK: There are international entities in place, mandated by the UN: The International Asteroid Warning Network ( and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group ( These groups advise the United Nations. That is exactly where we come up with plans and protocols on action. But: They don’t have budget – that needs to come from elsewhere. I am expecting that if we have a real threat, we would get the budget. Right now, we don’t have a multi-billion budget.
the below is a reply to someone else's answer
There is no actual risk of any sizable asteroids hitting earth in the foreseeable future. Any preparation for it would just be a waste of money. DVK: Indeed, as mentioned earlier, we do not expect a large object to hit is in the near future. We are mainly worried about those in the size range of 20 m to 40 m, which happen on average every few tens of years to hundreds of years. And where we only know a percent of them or even less.
President Obama wanted to send a crewed spacecraft to an asteroid - in your opinion is this something that should still be done in the future, would there be any usefulness in having a human being walk/float on an asteroid's surface? DVK: It would definitely be cool. I would maybe even volunteer to go. Our current missions to asteroids are all robotic, the main reason is that it is much cheaper (but still expensive) to get the same science. But humans will expand further into space, I am sure. If we want to test human exploration activities, doing this at an asteroid would be easier than landing on a planet.
this is another reply Yes, but I am slightly biased by the fact that I work at the European astronaut centre ;) There exist many similarities to what we currently do for EVA (extra vehicular activities) operations on the International Space Station versus how we would 'float' around an asteroid. Slightly biased again, but using such a mission to test exploration technologies would definitely still have value. Thanks Obama! - AC
I've heard that some asteroids contains large amounts of iron. Is there a possibility that we might have "space mines" in the far away future, if our own supply if iron runs out? Yes, this is a topic in the field known as space mining, part of what we call Space Resources. In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization. Its a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines :) - AC
By how much is DART expected to deflect Didymos? Do we have any indication of the largest size of an asteroid we could potentially deflect? PM: Didymos is a binary asteroid, consisting of a main asteroid Didymos A (~700m) and a smaller asteroid Didymos B (~150m) orbiting around A with a ~12 hours period. DART is expected to impact Didymos B and change its orbital period w.r.t. Didymos A of ~1%. (8 mins)
The size of Didymos B is the most representative of a potential threat to Earth (the highest combination of probability and consequence of impacts), meaning smaller asteroids hit the Earth more often but have less severe consequences, larger asteroids can have catastrophic consequences but their probability of hitting the earth is very very low.
the below is a reply to the above
Why is there less probability of larger asteroids hitting earth? DVK: There are less large objects out there. The smaller they are, the more there are.
the below is a reply to the original answer
Is there any chance that your experiment will backfire and send the asteroid towards earth? PM: Not at all, or we would not do that :) Actually Dimorphos (the Didymos "moon") will not even leave its orbit around Didymos. It will just slightly change its speed.
I'm sure you've been asked this many times but how realistic is the plot of Armageddon? How likely is it that our fate as a species will rely on (either) Bruce Willis / deep sea oil drillers? Taking into consideration that Bruce Willis is now 65 and by the time HERA is launched he will be 69, I do not think that we can rely on him this time (although I liked the movie).
HERA will investigate what method we could use to deflect asteroid and maybe the results will show that we indeed need to call the deep sea oil drillers.
the below is a reply to the above
So then would it be easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts, or to train astronauts to be oil drillers? I do not know which one would be easier since I have no training/experience of deep see oil drilling nor becoming an astronaut, but as long as the ones that would go to asteroid have the sufficient skills and training (even Bruce Willis), I would be happy.
If budget was no object, which asteroid would you most like to send a mission to? Nice question! For me, I'd be looking at an asteroid we know something about, since I would be interested in using it for testing how we could extract resources from it. So for me, I would choose Itokawa (, which was visited by Hayabusa spacecraft. So we already have some solid prospecting carried out for this 'roid! - AC
this is another reply Not sure if it counts as an asteroid, but Detlef and myself would probably choose ʻOumuamua, the first discovered interstellar object.
the below is a reply to the above
Do we even have the capability to catch up to something like that screaming through our solar system? That thing has to have a heck of a velocity to just barrel almost straight through like that. DVK: Correct, that would be a real challenge. We are preparing for a mission called 'Comet Interceptor' that is meant to fly to an interstellar object or at least a fresh comet - but it will not catch up with it, it will only perform a short flyby.
After proving to be able to land on one, could an asteroid serve as a viable means to transport goods and or humans throughout the solar system when the orbit of said asteroid proves beneficial. While it is probably quite problematic to land the payload, it could save fuel or am I mistaken? Neat idea! Wonder if anyone has done the maths on the amount of fuel you would need/save vs certain targets. - AC
PM: To further complement, the saving is quite marginal indeed because in order to land (softly) on the asteroid you actually need to get into the very same orbit of that asteroid . At that point your orbit remains the same whether you are on the asteroid or not..
can the current anti-ballistic missiles systems intercept a terminal phase earth strike asteroid? or it is better to know beforehand and launch an impacting vehicle into space? DVK: While I do see presentations on nuclear explosions to deflect asteroids at our professional meetings, I have not seen anybody yet studying how we could use existing missile systems. So it's hard to judge whether existing missiles would do the job. But in general, it is better to know as early as possible about a possible impact and deflect it as early as possible. This will minimize the needed effort.
How much are we prepared against asteroid impacts at this moment? DVK: 42… :-) Seriously – I am not sure how to quantify ‘preparedness’. We have international working groups in place, mentioned earlier (search for IAWN, SMPAG). We have a Planetary Defence Office at ESA, a Planetary Defense Office at NASA (who spots the difference?), search the sky for asteroids, build space missions… Still we could be doing more. More telescopes to find the object, a space-based telescope to discover those that come from the direction of the Sun. Different test missions would be useful, … So there is always more we could do.
Have you got any data on the NEO coverage? Is there estimations on the percentage of NEOs we have detected and are tracking? How can we improve the coverage? How many times have asteroids been able to enter earths atmosphere without being detected beforehand? Here’s our recently updated infographics with the fraction of undiscovered NEOs for each size range:
As expected, we are now nearly complete for the large ones, while many of the smaller ones are still unknown.
In order to improve coverage, we need both to continue the current approach, centered on ground-based telescopes, and probably also launch dedicated telescopes to space, to look at the fraction of the sky that cannot be easily observed from the ground (e.g., towards the Sun).
Regarding the last part of your question, small asteroids enter the Earth atmosphere very often (the infographics above gives you some numbers), while larger ones are much rarer.
In the recent past, the largest one to enter our atmosphere was about 20 meters in diameter, and it caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013. It could not be detected in advance because it came from the direction of the Sun.
We have however detected a few small ones before impact. The first happened in 2008, when a ~4-meter asteroid was found to be on a collision course less than a day before impact, it was predicted to fall in Northern Sudan, and then actually observed falling precisely where (and when) expected.
this is another reply >After
DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here To see the sky which is currently covered by the survey telescopes, you need to service of the Minor Planet Center which we all work together with:, ‘observers’, ‘sky coverage’. That is a tool we use to plan where we look with our telescopes, so it is a more technical page.
Are there any automatic systems for checking large numbers of asteroids orbits, to see if the asteroid's orbit is coming dangerously close to Earth, or is it done by people individually for every asteroid? I ask it because LSST Rubin is coming online soon and you know it will discover a lot of new asteroids. Yes, such systems exist, and monitor all known and newly discovered asteroids in order to predict possible future impacts.
The end result of the process is what we call "risk list":
It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.
What are your favourite sci-fi series? DVK: My favorites are ‘The Expanse’, I also liked watching ‘Salvation’. For the first one I even got my family to give me a new subscription to a known internet streaming service so that I can see the latest episodes. I also loved ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’ as a kid. Not sure the last one counts as sci-fi though. My long-time favorite was ‘Dark Star’.
this is another reply Big fan of The Expanse at the moment. Nice, hard sci-fi that has a good impression of being grounded in reality - AC
this is another reply When I was a kid I liked The Jetsons, when growing up Star Trek, Star wars and I also used to watch with my sister the 'V'.
When determining the potential threat of a NEA, is the mass of an object a bigger factor or size? I'm asking because I'm curious if a small but massive object (say, with the density of Psyche) could survive atmospheric entry better than a comparatively larger but less massive object. The mass is indeed what really matters, since it’s directly related with the impact energy.
And as you said composition also matters, a metal object would survive atmospheric entry better, not just because it’s heavier, but also because of its internal strength.
What are your thoughts on asteroid mining as portrayed in sci-fi movies? Is it feasible? If so would governments or private space programs be the first to do so?What type of minerals can be found on asteroids that would merit the costs of extraction? Certainly there is valuable stuff you can find on asteroids. For example, the likely easiest material you can harvest from an asteroid would be volatiles such as H2O. Then you have industrial metals, things like Iron, Nickel, and Platinum group metals. Going further, you can break apart many of the oxide minerals you would find to get oxygen (getting you closer to producing rocket fuel in-situ!). Its feasible, but still needs alot of testing both here on Earth and eventually needs to be tested on a target. It may be that governments, via agencies like ESA or NASA, may do it first, to prove the principles somewhat, but I know many commercial entities are also aggresively working towards space mining. To show you that its definitely possible, I'd like to plug the work of colleagues who have processed lunar regolith (which is similar to what you may find on asteroids) to extract both oxygen and metals. Check it out here:
Will 2020's climax be a really big rock? DVK: Let's hope not...
Considering NASA, ESA, IAU etc. is working hard to track Earth-grazing asteroids, how come the Chelyabinsk object that airburst over Russia in 2013 came as a total surprise? The Chelyabinsk object came from the direction of the Sun, where unfortunately ground-based telescopes cannot look at. Therefore, it would not have been possible to discover it in advance with current telescopes. Dedicated space telescopes are needed to detect objects coming from this direction in advance.
the below is a reply to the above
Is this to say that it was within specific solid angles for the entire time that we could have observed it given its size and speed? Yes, precisely that. We got unlucky in this case.
Have any of you read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven? In your opinion, how realistic is his depiction of an asteroid strike on Earth? DVK: I have – but really long ago, so I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that I really liked the book, and I remember I always wanted to have a Hot Fudge Sundae when reading it.
I was thinking about the asteroid threat as a teen and came up with this ideas (Hint: they are not equally serious, the level of craziness goes up real quick). Could you please comment on their feasibility? 1. Attaching a rocket engine to an asteroid to make it gradually change trajectory, do that long in advance and it will miss Earth by thousands of km 2. Transporting acid onto asteroid (which are mainly metal), attaching a dome-shaped reaction chamber to it, using heat and pressure to then carry out the chemical reaction to disintegrate asteroids 3. This one is even more terrible than a previous one and totally Dan Brown inspired — transporting antimatter on asteroid, impacting and causing annihilation. Thank you for this AMA and your time! DVK: Well the first one is not so crazy, I have seen it presented... the difficulty is that all asteroids are rotating in one way or another. So if you continuously fire the engine it would not really help. You'd need to switch the engine on and off. Very complex. And landing on an asteroid is challenging too. Just using the 'kinetic impactor' which we will test with DART/Hera (described elsewhere in this chat) is simpler. Another seriously proposed concept is to put a spacecraft next to an asteroid and use an ion engine (like we have on our Mercury mission BepiColombo) to 'push' the asteroid away.
As for 2 and 3 I think I will not live to see that happening ;-)
What is the process to determine the orbit of a newly discovered asteroid? The process is mathematically quite complex, but here's a short summary.
Everything starts with observations, in particular with measurements of the position of an asteroid in the sky, what we call "astrometry". Discovery telescopes extract this information from their discovery images, and make it available to everybody.
These datapoints are then used to calculate possible trajectories ("orbits") that pass through them. At first, with very few points, many orbits will be possible.
Using these orbits we can extrapolate where the asteroid will be located during the following nights, use a telescope to observe that part of the sky, and locate the object again.
From these new observations we can extract new "astrometry", add it to the orbit determination, and see that now only some of the possible orbits will be compatible with the new data. As a result, we now know the trajectory better than before, because a few of the possible orbits are not confirmed by the new data.
The cycle can then continue, with new predictions, new observations, and a more accurate determination of the object's orbit, until it can be determined with an extremely high level of accuracy.
What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"? We have exactly that list on our web portal:
It's called "risk list", and it includes all known asteroids for which we cannot exclude a possible impact over the next century. It is updated every day to include newly discovered asteroids, and remove those that have been excluded as possible impactors thanks to new observations.
the below is a reply to the above
That's quite a list!! Do you guys ever feel stressed or afraid when you have to add another dangerous candidate (and by dangerous I mean those above 200m) is added to this Risk List? Yes, when new dangerous ones are added it's important that we immediately do our best to gather more data on them, observing them with telescopes in order to get the information we need to improve our knowledge of their orbit.
And then the satisfaction of getting the data needed to remove one from the list is even greater!
What inspired you to go into this field of study? I was fascinated by astronomy in general since I was a kid, but the actual "trigger" that sparked my interest in NEOs was a wonderful summer course on asteroids organized by a local amateur astronomers association. I immediately decided that I would do my best to turn this passion into my job, and I'm so happy to have been able to make that dream come true.
this is another reply DVK: I started observing meteors when I was 14, just by going outside and looking at the night sky. Since then, small bodies in the solar system were always my passion.
As a layperson, I still think using nuclear weapons against asteroids is the coolest method despite better methods generally being available. Do you still consider the nuclear option the cool option, or has your expertise in the field combined with the real-life impracticalities made it into a laughable/silly/cliche option? DVK: We indeed still study the nuclear option. There are legal aspects though, the ‘outer space treaty’ forbids nuclear explosions in space. But for a large object or one we discover very late it could be useful. That’s why we have to focus on discovering all the objects out there as early as possible – then we have time enough to use more conventional deflection methods, like the kinetic impactor (the DART/Hera scenario).
It seems like doing this well would require international cooperation, particularly with Russia. Have you ever reached out to Russia in your work? Do you have a counterpart organization there that has a similar mission? DVK: Indeed international cooperation is important - asteroids don't know about our borders! We work with a Russian team to perform follow-up observations of recently discovered NEOs. Russia is also involved in the UN-endorsed working groups that we have, IAWN and SMPAG (explained in another answer).
how much can experts tell from a video of a fireball or meteor? Can you work out what it's made of and where it came from? If multiple videos or pictures, taken from different locations, are available, then it's possible to reconstruct the trajectory, and extrapolate where the object came from.
Regarding the composition, it's a bit more difficult if nothing survives to the ground, but some information can be obtained indirectly from the fireball's color, or its fragmentation behavior. If a spectral analysis of the light can be made, it's then possible to infer the chemical composition in much greater detail.
I've always wanted to know what the best meteorite buying site is and what their average price is?? DVK: Serious dealers will be registered with the 'International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA)' - They should provide a 'certificate of authenticity' where it says that they are member there. If you are in doubt, you can contact the association and check. Normally there are rough prices for different meteorite types per gram. Rare meteorites will of course be much more expensive than more common ones. Check the IMCA web page to find a dealer close to you.
Just read through Aidans link to the basaltic rock being used as a printing material for lunar habitation. There is a company called Roxul that does stone woven insulation that may be able to shed some light on the research they have done to minimize their similarity to asbestos as potentially carcinogenic materials deemed safe for use in commercial and residential applications. As the interior surfaces will essentially be 3D printed lunar regolith what are the current plans to coat or dampen the affinity for the structure to essentially be death traps for respiratory illness? At least initially, many of these 3d printed regolith structures would not be facing into pressurised sections, but would rather be elements placed outside and around our pressure vessels. Such structures would be things like radiation shields, landing pads or roadways, etc. In the future, if we move towards forming hermetically sealed structures, then your point is a good one. Looking into terrestrial solutions to this problem would be a great start! - AC
What kind of career path does it take to work in the asteroid hunting field? It's probably different for each of us, but here's a short summary of my own path.
I became interested in asteroids, and near-Earth objects in particular, thanks to a wonderful summer course organized by a local amateur astronomers association. Amateur astronomers play a great role in introducing people, and young kids in particular, to these topics.
Then I took physics as my undergrad degree (in Italy), followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy in the US (Hawaii in particular, a great place for astronomers thanks to the exceptional telescopes hosted there).
After finishing the Ph.D. I started my current job at ESA's NEO Coordination Centre, which allowed me to realize my dream of working in this field.
this is another reply DVK: Almost all of us have a Master's degree either in aerospace engineering, mathematics, physics/astronomy/planetary science, or computer science. Some of us - as MM - have a Ph.D. too. But that's not really a requirement. This is true for our team at ESA, but also for other teams in other countries.
What is the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth In the next 200 years? It depends on the size, large ones are rare, while small ones are much more common. You can check this infographics to get the numbers for each size class:
Have you played the Earth Defence Force games and if you have, which one is your favourite? No I have not played the Earth Defence Force games, but I just looked it up and I think I would liked it. Which one would you recommend?
How close is too close to earth? Space is a SUPER vast void so is 1,000,000 miles close, 10,000,000? And if an asteroid is big enough can it throw earth off its orbit? DVK: Too close for my taste is when we compute an impact probability > 0 for the object. That means the flyby distance is zero :-) Those are the objects on our risk page
If an object can alter the orbit of another one, we would call it planet. So unless we have a rogue planet coming from another solar system (verrry unlikely) we are safe from that.
How can I join you when I'm older? DVK: Somebody was asking about our career paths... Study aerospace engineering or math or physics or computer science, get a Masters. Possibly a Ph.D. Then apply for my position when I retire. Check here for how to apply at ESA:
How much is too much? DVK: 42 again
Are you aware of any asteroids that are theoretically within our reach, or will be within our reach at some point, that are carrying a large quantity of shungite? If you're not aware, shungite is like a 2 billion year old like, rock stone that protects against frequencies and unwanted frequencies that may be traveling in the air. I bought a whole bunch of the stuff. Put them around the la casa. Little pyramids, stuff like that. DVK: If I remember my geology properly, Shungite forms in water sedimental deposits. This requires liquid water, i.e. a larger planet. So I don't think there is a high chance to see that on asteroids.
submitted by 500scnds to tabled [link] [comments]

John Campbell's live Question and Answer session Sat 22 Feb 2020.

Posting this here on Reddit because although it would be more useful on YouTube this indexed summary is (probably??) too long to post as a youtube comment. It's also too long for a single Reddit comment.
I found his Q&A to be a good compendium of info but if people want something in particular they shouldn't have to listen to the whole 2.5hrs. The automatic transcript is good but it is not a summary. So I have written this index for you all.
Hopefully this is all accurate and I did not mistype anything, but if you notice an error let me know and I can edit the comment.
Index of Dr. John Campbell live chat Sat 22 Feb 2020.
Video time codes in square brackets.

"Live Chat with John, Saturday, 22 Feb, 2020, 19.00 UK time"

(First stream of the Q&A session).

  1. What is happening with the statistics from Latin America and Africa?
1a. Have not heard any from Latin America.
1b. Officially there is only one case in Africa.Lots of construction crew traffic between China and African countries.African doctors have emailed John to say there are probably cases there.Diagnostic kits have only just arrived in Africa.

  1. Are infections accelerating?
2a. Basically globally yes.
2b. Chinese figures are not accurate, but they report a slowdown in infection rate in China.China has implemented draconian quarantine measures that the West could not easily do. eg forbidding cars.It is probably going to spread to every country.But epidemics cannot rise forever and they naturally peak, and this is happening in Hubei province already.In other parts of China the infection curve is still increasing.The strong quarantine measures are slowing the spread. The most likely effect of this is that the same number will get infected but it will be spread over longer time. Chinese schools are closed.
2c. South Korea is reporting a huge increase in cremations in North Korea. Unknown why.
2d. Vietnam has closed all schools. Areas near China border have been closed.
2e. Some new cases have no clear link to Wuhan. One superspreader from England could be traced to Wuhan. Other cases now have no known link. That is why we are at the start of a pandemic.

  1. Are we faced with mutations of the virus?
3a. Some reports from in Iran that the virulence of the disease in Iran is much stronger than in China.Some reports that cause of death of COVID19 cases is viral myocarditis. Can also lead to heart failure.Yes, this could be due to mutation.
3b. It is a single RNA strand which allows it to mutate quickly.If it mutates to be less effective it will die out. But it can evolve the other way.Do not know if this explains the reported Case Fatality Rate difference in Iran.
3c. Having a worse healthcare system in Iran will also increase the CFR.

  1. Would having a previous case of pneumonia make any difference?
4a. Mostly people will get rid of pneumonia completely and have no long term harm from it.So just having pneumonia previously, No.
4b. If you have an existing degenerative lung disease, and defective cilia, that prevents pneumonia from being cured.
4c. Asthma inflames the bronchial airways. Their airways are most sensitive, so getting the virus will make their airways inflamed even more than normal.Steroids can reduce immune system effectiveness, and brown inhalers for asthma have steroids, so ask your doctor if yo should continue using the brown inhaler if you get COVID19.

  1. If the virus lives on surfaces for 28 days, why not stop imports?
5a. The nearest analogous virus is 2002 SARS, which survived over 5 days at 5°C and not as long at warmer temperatures.
5b. There is probably little risk from packages. Leave it for a month before openning and all the virus particles should be dead. Warm up the package and it should take less time.

  1. I live in Latvia, should I be worried?
Yes. This is going to be a pandemic, so it will probably go everywhere.

  1. What is the treatment for viral myocarditis?
7a. None. Normally you give an antivrial drug. There is none currently for COVID19.
7b. If you do get it, rest your heart, don't do normal duties.Heart muscle cells do not divide and heal after damage.

  1. Should we take protease inhibitor supplements?
No! If anything you would want more enzymes, not less.

Stream interrupted unexpectedly and ends.
Continued in next video

Index of Dr. John Campbell live chat Sat 22 Feb 2020
Video time codes in square brackets.

"Live Chat with John, Saturday, 22 Feb, 2020, 19.00 UK time"

2nd stream of broadcast.

  1. How is the condition diagnosed?
1a. background: Antigens, Antibodies, Immunoglobulin.
1b. There is no antibody test yet, but that is the usual method for other viruses.
1c. PCR amplifies the RNA strand of SARS-CoV-2 (if present). Takes a day to do.

  1. How long is the incubation period?
2a. Incubation typically 4 to 6 days.
2b. Quarantine are using between 2 and 14.
2c. At least one documented case of it being 28 days.
2d. Suspected origin of the virus.
The virus may have started in a bat, jumped from the bat to another animal,
then jumped from that animal into a human.
The first infected human infected two other people who infected others.(ie- a mostly binary tree of spread).
This gives rise to multiple copies of the virus which during reproduction
may become different serotypes, and so may have different incubation periods.
2e. A recent paper says the virus may be most infectious 3 or 4 days after infection.

  1. What exactly is a pandemic?
An epidemic is a large localised outbreak.
Technically, a pandemic is when a disease is on two or more continents.
The WHO only uses "pandemic" to describe viral community spread on multiple continents.

  1. Can the incubation period be as long as 27 days?
Yes, cases as long as 28 days.

  1. Antiviral drugs?
Remdesivir developed for Ebola, unknown if effective against Covid19.
Doctors sometimes do "compassionate prescribing" which is a guess at what will work.
Randomised controlled trials are being done on different options.

  1. Concern for Italy and Iran?
Yes, it's been spreading there.

  1. What about the possibility of re-infection?
Very complicated.
7a. background: Virus triggers antibodies, antibody kills virus. Antibodies should kill virus if it is reintroduced so that "reinfection" (probably meant illness) does not happen.
7b. In other viruses "Antibody-enhanced infection" can occur, where infection by a different strain of the virus can be more severe than if you hadn't been infected with the original virus. eg Dengue A and Dengue B.
7c. Antibody diagram [0:22:29]Normally immune cells will recognise, attack, and kill the virus.Immune cells have "Fc" receptors on their surface which will accept the combined viral particle and antibody. Sometimes this does not kill the virus but attaching to the immune cell helps the virus invade the immune cell, so it destroys the immune cells.In Dengue Fever, making antibodies to Dengue A makes you more susceptible to Dengue B.
7d. Speculation that some young medical staff died because they may have got several serotypesof the virus at same time, which would be more fatal if antibody-enhanced infection occurs.
(transmission interrupted)
7e. Re-infection (of Covid19) is possible but has not been clearly demonstrated.If this happens then we may be stuck with Covid19 for decades.

  1. What about the young doctors that died?
Not sure. Possible exacerbating factors are sleep deprivation, concurrent infection
by several types/strains, or other bacteria.

  1. What happens in superspreaders' bodies?
Superspreaders are people who spread the disease to a lot of people.
The R_0 is 2.6 on average, but some people can infect far more than 3 people.
They may have lifestyle factors which allow them to infect more people than average.
They shed a lot more virus particles but the biological mechanism is not known.
Possibly their immune system is strong enough to stop illness but not to eradicate the virus.

  1. Has it mutated in Iran to become more deadly?
It's possible, but let's hope not.

  1. Are you being censored?
I don't know, the computer hasn't done this before.

  1. Is Antibody-dependent enhancement occurring?
We don't know.

  1. Pakistan?
Lots of daily flights between Pakistan and China, and crowded areas in Pakistan.
Likely that Covid19 is in Pakistan but not confirmed.

  1. What is sequelae?
Sequelae are pathological features that persist after the original infection is gone.

  1. What are the methods of spread?
15a. Droplets. Big droplets of water in exhaled breath. Spreads over short distance of few metres.This can be directly person-to-person. But droplets also fall onto a surface, touching your mucous membranes after touching the droplets will then infect.
**** [0:36:52]
15b. We now know SARS-CoV-2 is spread in the air. Can be spread in ventilation systems.This is probably why it is spreading quickly.
15c. Faeces. Defecating in a public toilet, flushing the toilet aerosolises the virus,and people can touch another surface that the aerosol lands on.
15d. Urine. The virus is expelled in urine. This was discovered today. The urine can be aerosolised during normal urination. Men at urinals especially.Although there is no data, based on above it could spread through sewerage.

  1. Can the virus spread from one apartment to another by air?
That's exactly what seems to have happened on the Diamond Princess.
Chinese officials have also said this happens.
There is no medical journal paper which says this yet, but the answer appears to be Yes.

  1. Diabetes?
In diabetes the blood sugar goes high.
A macrophage(white cell) will move through tissue to eat viruses.
If there is a lot of sugar in the cell the macrophage can't move easily to get to the virus.
High sugar levels can inhibit the efficiency of the immmune system.
This can happen without diabetes. People with diabetes can manage their sugar level to avoid this.

  1. Can you have H1N1 and SARS-CoV-2 at the same time?
18a. Yes. Important to protect ill people from all secondary infections.
18b. You can also get bacterial secondary infection.Virus gets into lining of bronchial tubes, eventually kill them.This leaves gaps in the lining of the tubes, which allows bacteria to get in and live there.This is a use for antibacterial drugs while recovering from a virus.

  1. How can the virus be spreading in Thailand if it cannot survive in warm weather?
Seasonality happens in other viruses, such as influenza which doesn't survive well in warm weather.
The virus survives [probably means outside the body] best at 5°C, and about a day at 20°C.
It's killed quickly by the UV in sunshine and by heat.
Warm weather will reduce spread by surface droplet deposits, but not via aerosols.
Australia is very hot this time of year but it could still spread in Australia.

  1. Is SARS-CoV-2 a bioweapon?
I don't think so, for two reasons.
If they wanted to they could make one much more effective than this.
Phylogenetic studies show it is probably a natural virus from bats.

  1. How would humidity affect the virus?
21a. We don't know.
21b. SARS survived well at low humidity, badly at 50% humidity, and well at high humidity.By analogy, high humidity will not protect you.

  1. Vaccine?
Work being done by lots of different places. Many steps to ensure it doesn't make things worse.
Probably be 18 months before it works.
Forget about having a vaccine to stop this first outbreak in 2020.

  1. Why do some coronavirus patients get diarrhoea?
In other animals the coronavirus tends to mainly infect the gastrointestinal tract.
In humans it will also sometimes infect the gastrointestinal tract, and in a minority of cases that has been the first visible symptom.
This can mislead diagnosis, and sending patients to an abdominal surgical ward has in the past led to accidental infection of other surgical ward patients with the virus.

  1. Are UK hospitals fully prepared now?
The NHS web site says Yes.
If a town has 10,000 people infected, 20% will get severe disease and 5% will be critical.
This would mean 2000 that need oxygen and 500 would need Intensive Care.
A typical hospital could not deliver 2000 oxygen bottles and has no more than 9 ICU beds.
UK hospitals are sometimes unable to cope with normal seasonal flu.
To say the whole NHS is fully prepared is laughable and is not being honest.
Modelling by Imperial College shows 60% of population could get the infection and 30% become sick.

  1. What is your personal opinion of colloidal silver?
Silver and iodine kill everything.
I can't possibly see how you would get silver into your lungs to kill viruses and bacteria.

  1. What if you have existing kidney problems like 50% function?
The older the person the greater the risk, but no data about kidney function.

  1. What about using medicines to control hypertension.
Long term conditions have to be controlled.

  1. No more news out of Iran?
There are six cities that may be closed down.
The elections have meant less infection control than would be desirable.

  1. Is it spread by insects.
We don't know. Probably not.

  1. Is this HIV.

  1. Can masks be disinfected with alcohol?
A 70% alcohol solution will kill the virus, but it is not a good idea to try this on masks.

  1. Is it possible to get two viruses at the same time?

  1. Has SARS1 mutated into SARS-CoV-2 ?
No. This is new.
The WHO named the new virus similar to the old 2002 SARS CoV even though it's unrelated.
It causes similar clinical features to the old one.

  1. Can it spread by wind or rain?
Wind, yes.
Rain, no.
[1:11:00] Masks have to fit properly, but they are not of much use outside of hospitals.

  1. What goes wrong when you get this disease?
35a. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The alveoli fill with fluid.
35b. Hypoxaemia, hypoxia, tissue damage.This can be tested with small blood oxygen monitor devices.
35c. Initially it is a dry cough, but it progresses into the pneumonia symptoms and fever.When using electronic temperature sensors the ear is usually more accurate.

  1. Does Vitamin C help?
Taking vitamin C can shorten the duration of some virus types, but very large doses are harmful.
Taking vitamin C can only help if you were unusually deficient in it.
People who live at high latitudes or have dark skin are most likely to be short of vitamin D.

  1. Are there any viruses as contagious as SARS-CoV-2 ?
Yes, measles is even more contagious than SARS-CoV-2.

  1. Is the Vitamin D winter-related?
Yes. (less sunlight)
Supplements won't help if you're not malnourished.

  1. Will the Olympics in Japan be cancelled?
The epidemic is peaking in Wuhan.
The epidemic will peak in Western countries in 4 months,which will not be a good time to travel.
They may not be on.

  1. Does smoking make a difference?
40a. Some data shows smokers get more severe disease.Air pollution in China is probably also a factor.
40b. More men than women have gotten the disease which may be because more men smoke than women.

  1. Why is New Zealand virus-free (of COVID19) ?
Because it's an island, but you are not immune to the virus.

  1. Can the virus cause seizures?
We saw some early videos of adult people having fits but they were likely bogus.
A fever of 39°C would not cause fitting.
So, No, not as far as I know and it shouldn't.

  1. What is your estimate of how many people will be sick in the UK?
About 60% infected in the first year and 30% will be sick.

  1. Oxygen supplements needed?
They will be needed. Not yet needed in the short term.

  1. Should we stop unnecessary travel?
This has spread by international air travel. It's a pretty short debate.

  1. Advice for immunocompromised people? Like Multiple Sclerosis?
MS does not compromise the immune system. But being disabled will make it more difficult to avoid.
Don't open the front door if possible.
Use hand washing, masks, avoid public toilets, use tissues to avoid touching surfaces.
Stop hugging, kissing, shaking hands, touching other people's phones.
Get plenty of sleep and good nutrition.

  1. Timeframe for vaccine.
About 18 months (already answered earlier).

  1. Why is Portugal virus-free (of COVID19)?
It hasn't got there yet, or cases are not being reported.

  1. Can it affect the brain?
Not directly as far as we know.
(water drink break.)
But hypoxia from ARDS/Pneumonia will damage the brain before it damages anything else.

  1. Is 2nd-time infection possible?
[1:35:40 ]
Normally no. If it mutates then Yes.

  1. What about chloroquin?
It been suggested this will help. It's being trialled. We won't know for another 2 weeks.
He would prescribe it now if could help.

  1. Can it live on clothes?
Yes. Normal washing will flush it out.

  1. Can it be spread by exposed fruit and vegetables?
Cooking will kill the virus.
If viral particles land on an apple, it can be spread by touching the apple (and eating it).
Running soap and water over it will get rid of it.

  1. Will the pneumonia vaccine help?
Different types of vaccine to different causes of pneumonia.
This a new virus.
So answer is absolutely not. No protection.

  1. Will HIV medications avoid white cell damage in secondary infection?
They are being tested in China.
It's possible but I don't know.
We'll know in 3 weeks.

  1. Can kids be superspreaders?
Children under 12 tend to get it less frequently than adults, and get disease less severely.
But children can incubate the virus without feeling ill.
This makes them more likely to be superspreaders.
The answer is Yes.

  1. Cough medicines help cough up mucous from the lungs, does that help with the pneumonia?
No, cough medicines do not do that.
They do not help with pneumonia.
Cough medicines are basically a waste of money.

  1. Would whiskey and honey remedy help?
It will have no beneficial effect whatsoever.

  1. Do nebulisers help?
Bronchodilators will help if someone has asthma.
As of now, no drug that can be nebulised will help with SARS-CoV-2.

  1. Can this virus cause cytokine storm?
Yes. Because it can cause sepsis.
White blood cells detect infection and release cytokines.
Cytokines are supposed to travel to other parts of the body to cause various immune responses.
But a lot of cytokines simultaneously will cause Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.
Sepsis symptoms are high: heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, white blood cells, sugar, lactic acid.
It is rare.

  1. When will it be epidemic in Europe?
It's difficult to put dates on this.
(note, he asked not to quote him on this, so I won't transcribe his answer.)

  1. Does Paracetamol weaken the immune system?
This drug (and Ibuprofen) lower your temperature.
But the temperature was supposed to be raised because the immune system works best at the higher temperature.
The answer is Yes it does.

  1. Pregancy.
As far as we know there are no adverse effects on pregnancy.
Pregnant women should still try to isolate themselves as much as possible to avoid infection.

End of stream.
submitted by OzJuggler to Coronavirus [link] [comments]

Beginner’s Guide to BitMEX

Beginner’s Guide to BitMEX
Founded by HDR Global Trading Limited (which in turn was founded by former bankers Arthur Hayes, Samuel Reed and Ben Delo) in 2014, BitMEX is a trading platform operating around the world and registered in the Seychelles.
Meaning Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange, BitMEX is one of the largest Bitcoin trading platforms currently operating, with a daily trading volume of over 35,000 BTC and over 540,000 accesses monthly and a trading history of over $34 billion worth of Bitcoin since its inception.
Unlike many other trading exchanges, BitMEX only accepts deposits through Bitcoin, which can then be used to purchase a variety of other cryptocurrencies. BitMEX specialises in sophisticated financial operations such as margin trading, which is trading with leverage. Like many of the exchanges that operate through cryptocurrencies, BitMEX is currently unregulated in any jurisdiction.
Visit BitMEX

How to Sign Up to BitMEX

In order to create an account on BitMEX, users first have to register with the website. Registration only requires an email address, the email address must be a genuine address as users will receive an email to confirm registration in order to verify the account. Once users are registered, there are no trading limits. Traders must be at least 18 years of age to sign up.
However, it should be noted that BitMEX does not accept any US-based traders and will use IP checks to verify that users are not in the US. While some US users have bypassed this with the use of a VPN, it is not recommended that US individuals sign up to the BitMEX service, especially given the fact that alternative exchanges are available to service US customers that function within the US legal framework.
How to Use BitMEX
BitMEX allows users to trade cryptocurrencies against a number of fiat currencies, namely the US Dollar, the Japanese Yen and the Chinese Yuan. BitMEX allows users to trade a number of different cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, Tezos and Zcash.
The trading platform on BitMEX is very intuitive and easy to use for those familiar with similar markets. However, it is not for the beginner. The interface does look a little dated when compared to newer exchanges like Binance and Kucoin’s.
Once users have signed up to the platform, they should click on Trade, and all the trading instruments will be displayed beneath.
Clicking on the particular instrument opens the orderbook, recent trades, and the order slip on the left. The order book shows three columns – the bid value for the underlying asset, the quantity of the order, and the total USD value of all orders, both short and long.
The widgets on the trading platform can be changed according to the user’s viewing preferences, allowing users to have full control on what is displayed. It also has a built in feature that provides for TradingView charting. This offers a wide range of charting tool and is considered to be an improvement on many of the offering available from many of its competitors.
Once trades are made, all orders can be easily viewed in the trading platform interface. There are tabs where users can select their Active Orders, see the Stops that are in place, check the Orders Filled (total or partially) and the trade history. On the Active Orders and Stops tabs, traders can cancel any order, by clicking the “Cancel” button. Users also see all currently open positions, with an analysis if it is in the black or red.
BitMEX uses a method called auto-deleveraging which BitMEX uses to ensure that liquidated positions are able to be closed even in a volatile market. Auto-deleveraging means that if a position bankrupts without available liquidity, the positive side of the position deleverages, in order of profitability and leverage, the highest leveraged position first in queue. Traders are always shown where they sit in the auto-deleveraging queue, if such is needed.
Although the BitMEX platform is optimized for mobile, it only has an Android app (which is not official). There is no iOS app available at present. However, it is recommended that users use it on the desktop if possible.
BitMEX offers a variety of order types for users:
  • Limit Order (the order is fulfilled if the given price is achieved);
  • Market Order (the order is executed at current market price);
  • Stop Limit Order (like a stop order, but allows users to set the price of the Order once the Stop Price is triggered);
  • Stop Market Order (this is a stop order that does not enter the order book, remain unseen until the market reaches the trigger);
  • Trailing Stop Order (it is similar to a Stop Market order, but here users set a trailing value that is used to place the market order);
  • Take Profit Limit Order (this can be used, similarly to a Stop Order, to set a target price on a position. In this case, it is in respect of making gains, rather than cutting losses);
  • Take Profit Market Order (same as the previous type, but in this case, the order triggered will be a market order, and not a limit one)
The exchange offers margin trading in all of the cryptocurrencies displayed on the website. It also offers to trade with futures and derivatives – swaps.

Futures and Swaps

A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a given asset in the future at a predetermined price. On BitMEX, users can leverage up to 100x on certain contracts.
Perpetual swaps are similar to futures, except that there is no expiry date for them and no settlement. Additionally, they trade close to the underlying reference Index Price, unlike futures, which may diverge substantially from the Index Price.
BitMEX also offers Binary series contracts, which are prediction-based contracts which can only settle at either 0 or 100. In essence, the Binary series contracts are a more complicated way of making a bet on a given event.
The only Binary series betting instrument currently available is related to the next 1mb block on the Bitcoin blockchain. Binary series contracts are traded with no leverage, a 0% maker fee, a 0.25% taker fee and 0.25% settlement fee.

Bitmex Leverage

BitMEX allows its traders to leverage their position on the platform. Leverage is the ability to place orders that are bigger than the users’ existing balance. This could lead to a higher profit in comparison when placing an order with only the wallet balance. Trading in such conditions is called “Margin Trading.”
There are two types of Margin Trading: Isolated and Cross-Margin. The former allows the user to select the amount of money in their wallet that should be used to hold their position after an order is placed. However, the latter provides that all of the money in the users’ wallet can be used to hold their position, and therefore should be treated with extreme caution.
The BitMEX platform allows users to set their leverage level by using the leverage slider. A maximum leverage of 1:100 is available (on Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash). This is quite a high level of leverage for cryptocurrencies, with the average offered by other exchanges rarely exceeding 1:20.

BitMEX Fees

For traditional futures trading, BitMEX has a straightforward fee schedule. As noted, in terms of leverage offered, BitMEX offers up to 100% leverage, with the amount off leverage varying from product to product.
However, it should be noted that trading at the highest leverages is sophisticated and is intended for professional investors that are familiar with speculative trading. The fees and leverage are as follows:
However, there are additional fees for hidden / iceberg orders. A hidden order pays the taker fee until the entire hidden quantity is completely executed. Then, the order will become normal, and the user will receive the maker rebate for the non-hidden amount.

Deposits and Withdrawals

BitMEX does not charge fees on deposits or withdrawals. However, when withdrawing Bitcoin, the minimum Network fee is based on blockchain load. The only costs therefore are those of the banks or the cryptocurrency networks.
As noted previously, BitMEX only accepts deposits in Bitcoin and therefore Bitcoin serves as collateral on trading contracts, regardless of whether or not the trade involves Bitcoin.
The minimum deposit is 0.001 BTC. There are no limits on withdrawals, but withdrawals can also be in Bitcoin only. To make a withdrawal, all that users need to do is insert the amount to withdraw and the wallet address to complete the transfer.
Deposits can be made 24/7 but withdrawals are processed by hand at a recurring time once per day. The hand processed withdrawals are intended to increase the security levels of users’ funds by providing extra time (and email notice) to cancel any fraudulent withdrawal requests, as well as bypassing the use of automated systems & hot wallets which may be more prone to compromise.

Supported Currencies

BitMEX operates as a crypto to crypto exchange and makes use of a Bitcoin-in/Bitcoin-out structure. Therefore, platform users are currently unable to use fiat currencies for any payments or transfers, however, a plus side of this is that there are no limits for trading and the exchange incorporates trading pairs linked to the US Dollar (XBT), Japanese Yen (XBJ), and Chinese Yuan (XBC).
BitMEX supports the following cryptocurrencies:
  • Bitcoin (XBT)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Ripple Token (XRP)
  • Monero (XMR)
  • Dash (DASH)
  • Zcash (ZEC)
  • Cardano (ADA)
  • Tron (TRX)
  • EOS Token (EOS)
BitMEX also offers leverage options on the following coins:
  • 5x: Zcash (ZEC)
  • 20x : Ripple (XRP),Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Cardano (ADA), EOS Token (EOS), Tron (TRX)
  • 25x: Monero (XMR)
  • 33x: Litecoin (LTC)
  • 50x: Ethereum (ETH)
  • 100x: Bitcoin (XBT), Bitcoin / Yen (XBJ), Bitcoin / Yuan (XBC)

Trading Technologies International Partnership

HDR Global Trading, the company which owns BitMEX, has recently announced a partnership with Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), a leading international high-performance trading software provider.
The TT platform is designed specifically for professional traders, brokers, and market-access providers, and incorporates a wide variety of trading tools and analytical indicators that allow even the most advanced traders to customize the software to suit their unique trading styles. The TT platform also provides traders with global market access and trade execution through its privately managed infrastructure and the partnership will see BitMEX users gaining access to the trading tools on all BitMEX products, including the popular XBT/USD Perpetual Swap pairing.

The BitMEX Insurance Fund

The ability to trade on leverage is one of the exchange’s main selling points and offering leverage and providing the opportunity for traders to trade against each other may result in a situation where the winners do not receive all of their expected profits. As a result of the amounts of leverage involved, it’s possible that the losers may not have enough margin in their positions to pay the winners.
Traditional exchanges like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) offset this problem by utilizing multiple layers of protection and cryptocurrency trading platforms offering leverage cannot currently match the levels of protection provided to winning traders.
In addition, cryptocurrency exchanges offering leveraged trades propose a capped downside and unlimited upside on a highly volatile asset with the caveat being that on occasion, there may not be enough funds in the system to pay out the winners.
To help solve this problem, BitMEX has developed an insurance fund system, and when a trader has an open leveraged position, their position is forcefully closed or liquidated when their maintenance margin is too low.
Here, a trader’s profit and loss does not reflect the actual price their position was closed on the market, and with BitMEX when a trader is liquidated, their equity associated with the position drops down to zero.
In the following example, the trader has taken a 100x long position. In the event that the mark price of Bitcoin falls to $3,980 (by 0.5%), then the position gets liquidated with the 100 Bitcoin position needing to be sold on the market.
This means that it does not matter what price this trade executes at, namely if it’s $3,995 or $3,000, as from the view of the liquidated trader, regardless of the price, they lose all the equity they had in their position, and lose the entire one Bitcoin.
Assuming there is a fully liquid market, the bid/ask spread should be tighter than the maintenance margin. Here, liquidations manifest as contributions to the insurance fund (e.g. if the maintenance margin is 50bps, but the market is 1bp wide), and the insurance fund should rise by close to the same amount as the maintenance margin when a position is liquidated. In this scenario, as long as healthy liquid markets persist, the insurance fund should continue its steady growth.
The following graphs further illustrate the example, and in the first chart, market conditions are healthy with a narrow bid/ask spread (just $2) at the time of liquidation. Here, the closing trade occurs at a higher price than the bankruptcy price (the price where the margin balance is zero) and the insurance fund benefits.
Illustrative example of an insurance contribution – Long 100x with 1 BTC collateral
(Note: The above illustration is based on opening a 100x long position at $4,000 per BTC and 1 Bitcoin of collateral. The illustration is an oversimplification and ignores factors such as fees and other adjustments.
The bid and offer prices represent the state of the order book at the time of liquidation. The closing trade price is $3,978, representing $1 of slippage compared to the $3,979 bid price at the time of liquidation.)
The second chart shows a wide bid/ask spread at the time of liquidation, here, the closing trade takes place at a lower price than the bankruptcy price, and the insurance fund is used to make sure that winning traders receive their expected profits.
This works to stabilize the potential for returns as there is no guarantee that healthy market conditions can continue, especially during periods of heightened price volatility. During these periods, it’s actually possible that the insurance fund can be used up than it is built up.
Illustrative example of an insurance depletion – Long 100x with 1 BTC collateral
(Notes: The above illustration is based on opening a 100x long position at $4,000 per BTC and 1 Bitcoin of collateral. The illustration is an oversimplification and ignores factors such as fees and other adjustments.
The bid and offer prices represent the state of the order book at the time of liquidation. The closing trade price is $3,800, representing $20 of slippage compared to the $3,820 bid price at the time of liquidation.)
The exchange declared in February 2019, that the BitMEX insurance fund retained close to 21,000 Bitcoin (around $70 million based on Bitcoin spot prices at the time).
This figure represents just 0.007% of BitMEX’s notional annual trading volume, which has been quoted as being approximately $1 trillion. This is higher than the insurance funds as a proportion of trading volume of the CME, and therefore, winning traders on BitMEX are exposed to much larger risks than CME traders as:
  • BitMEX does not have clearing members with large balance sheets and traders are directly exposed to each other.
  • BitMEX does not demand payments from traders with negative account balances.
  • The underlying instruments on BitMEX are more volatile than the more traditional instruments available on CME.
Therefore, with the insurance fund remaining capitalized, the system effectively with participants who get liquidated paying for liquidations, or a losers pay for losers mechanism.
This system may appear controversial as first, though some may argue that there is a degree of uniformity to it. It’s also worth noting that the exchange also makes use of Auto Deleveraging which means that on occasion, leveraged positions in profit can still be reduced during certain time periods if a liquidated order cannot be executed in the market.
More adventurous traders should note that while the insurance fund holds 21,000 Bitcoin, worth approximately 0.1% of the total Bitcoin supply, BitMEX still doesn’t offer the same level of guarantees to winning traders that are provided by more traditional leveraged trading platforms.
Given the inherent volatility of the cryptocurrency market, there remains some possibility that the fund gets drained down to zero despite its current size. This may result in more successful traders lacking confidence in the platform and choosing to limit their exposure in the event of BitMEX being unable to compensate winning traders.

How suitable is BitMEX for Beginners?

BitMEX generates high Bitcoin trading levels, and also attracts good levels of volume across other crypto-to-crypto transfers. This helps to maintain a buzz around the exchange, and BitMEX also employs relatively low trading fees, and is available round the world (except to US inhabitants).
This helps to attract the attention of people new to the process of trading on leverage and when getting started on the platform there are 5 main navigation Tabs to get used to:
  • **Trade:**The trading dashboard of BitMEX. This tab allows you to select your preferred trading instrument, and choose leverage, as well as place and cancel orders. You can also see your position information and view key information in the contract details.
  • **Account:**Here, all your account information is displayed including available Bitcoin margin balances, deposits and withdrawals, and trade history.
  • **Contracts:**This tab covers further instrument information including funding history, contract sizes; leverage offered expiry, underlying reference Price Index data, and other key features.
  • **References:**This resource centre allows you to learn about futures, perpetual contracts, position marking, and liquidation.
  • **API:**From here you can set up an API connection with BitMEX, and utilize the REST API and WebSocket API.
BitMEX also employs 24/7 customer support and the team can also be contacted on their Twitter and Reddit accounts.
In addition, BitMEX provides a variety of educational resources including an FAQ section, Futures guides, Perpetual Contracts guides, and further resources in the “References” account tab.
For users looking for more in depth analysis, the BitMEX blog produces high level descriptions of a number of subjects and has garnered a good reputation among the cryptocurrency community.
Most importantly, the exchange also maintains a testnet platform, built on top of testnet Bitcoin, which allows anyone to try out programs and strategies before moving on to the live exchange.
This is crucial as despite the wealth of resources available, BitMEX is not really suitable for beginners, and margin trading, futures contracts and swaps are best left to experienced, professional or institutional traders.
Margin trading and choosing to engage in leveraged activity are risky processes and even more advanced traders can describe the process as a high risk and high reward “game”. New entrants to the sector should spend a considerable amount of time learning about margin trading and testing out strategies before considering whether to open a live account.

Is BitMEX Safe?

BitMEX is widely considered to have strong levels of security. The platform uses multi-signature deposits and withdrawal schemes which can only be used by BitMEX partners. BitMEX also utilises Amazon Web Services to protect the servers with text messages and two-factor authentication, as well as hardware tokens.
BitMEX also has a system for risk checks, which requires that the sum of all account holdings on the website must be zero. If it’s not, all trading is immediately halted. As noted previously, withdrawals are all individually hand-checked by employees, and private keys are never stored in the cloud. Deposit addresses are externally verified to make sure that they contain matching keys. If they do not, there is an immediate system shutdown.
In addition, the BitMEX trading platform is written in kdb+, a database and toolset popular amongst major banks in high frequency trading applications. The BitMEX engine appears to be faster and more reliable than some of its competitors, such as Poloniex and Bittrex.
They have email notifications, and PGP encryption is used for all communication.
The exchange hasn’t been hacked in the past.

How Secure is the platform?

As previously mentioned, BitMEX is considered to be a safe exchange and incorporates a number of security protocols that are becoming standard among the sector’s leading exchanges. In addition to making use of Amazon Web Services’ cloud security, all the exchange’s systems can only be accessed after passing through multiple forms of authentication, and individual systems are only able to communicate with each other across approved and monitored channels.
Communication is also further secured as the exchange provides optional PGP encryption for all automated emails, and users can insert their PGP public key into the form inside their accounts.
Once set up, BitMEX will encrypt and sign all the automated emails sent by you or to your account by the [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) email address. Users can also initiate secure conversations with the support team by using the email address and public key on the Technical Contact, and the team have made their automated system’s PGP key available for verification in their Security Section.
The platform’s trading engine is written in kdb+, a database and toolset used by leading financial institutions in high-frequency trading applications, and the speed and reliability of the engine is also used to perform a full risk check after every order placement, trade, settlement, deposit, and withdrawal.
All accounts in the system must consistently sum to zero, and if this does not happen then trading on the platform is immediately halted for all users.
With regards to wallet security, BitMEX makes use of a multisignature deposit and withdrawal scheme, and all exchange addresses are multisignature by default with all storage being kept offline. Private keys are not stored on any cloud servers and deep cold storage is used for the majority of funds.
Furthermore, all deposit addresses sent by the BitMEX system are verified by an external service that works to ensure that they contain the keys controlled by the founders, and in the event that the public keys differ, the system is immediately shut down and trading halted. The exchange’s security practices also see that every withdrawal is audited by hand by a minimum of two employees before being sent out.

BitMEX Customer Support

The trading platform has a 24/7 support on multiple channels, including email, ticket systems and social media. The typical response time from the customer support team is about one hour, and feedback on the customer support generally suggest that the customer service responses are helpful and are not restricted to automated responses.
The BitMEX also offers a knowledge base and FAQs which, although they are not necessarily always helpful, may assist and direct users towards the necessary channels to obtain assistance.
BitMEX also offers trading guides which can be accessed here


There would appear to be few complaints online about BitMEX, with most issues relating to technical matters or about the complexities of using the website. Older complaints also appeared to include issues relating to low liquidity, but this no longer appears to be an issue.
BitMEX is clearly not a platform that is not intended for the amateur investor. The interface is complex and therefore it can be very difficult for users to get used to the platform and to even navigate the website.
However, the platform does provide a wide range of tools and once users have experience of the platform they will appreciate the wide range of information that the platform provides.
Visit BitMEX
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