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[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!

Source
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.
MM
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.
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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: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
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 https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/02/Flyeye_telescope.
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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.
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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 http://neo.ssa.esa.int. 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!
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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: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/336356/336472/PDC_2019_Summary_Report_FINAL_FINAL.pdf/341b9451-0ce8-f338-5d68-714a0aada29b?t=1569333739470
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.
MM
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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.
MM
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 (http://www.iawn.net) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (http://www.smpag.net). 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
HG
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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.
HG
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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25143_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.
MM
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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.
https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/ESA_s_new_mission_to_intercept_a_comet
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: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
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.
MM
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DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out http://neo.ssa.esa.int. There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/. 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: http://www.minorplanetcenter.org, ‘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": http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.
MM
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'.
HG
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.
MM
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: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/10/Oxygen_and_metal_from_lunar_regolith
AC
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.
MM
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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.
MM
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.
MM
What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"? We have exactly that list on our web portal: http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
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.
MM
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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!
MM
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.
MM
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? https://www.reddit.com/space/comments/hdf3xe/footage_of_a_meteor_at_barrow_island_australia/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x 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.
MM
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)' - https://www.imca.cc/. 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.
MM
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: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
MM
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?
HG
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 http://neo.ssa.esa.int/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: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Frequently_asked_questions2#HR1
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.
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[LONG] My Story of Disillusionment with and Disappointment in the World and Myself

Intro.
This might be a long one. I hope someone reads the thing, I put like 3 hours into writing it. A brief story of my life and how it all led up to this moment, where I am disillusioned with my self-image, my life choices, and certain aspects of the world, and have no idea what to do next. Warning: this whole thing might be a little depressing to read.
Childhood.
I am a 20yo Russian male. During my childhood, I was made to believe that I am capable of doing something great and doing better than anyone. At the same time I developed a very non-conformist life stance and very often rejected things and ideas simply because they were too popular for my taste, and I couldn't feel special whilst enjoying them. Of course, in turn, society rejected me, as it does with anyone who doesn't play by the rules. Oh well.
My only redeeming quality was that I considered myself pretty smart. Which is even easier to assume, when at the same time you think that you're different from everyone else. Now, I know that to some extent, I was indeed smarter than most people in certain areas. Unlike most people I knew back then, often with bare minimum efforts I was able to maintain near perfect grades at school. I was also enjoying learning new things and reading more than an average person. So, let's just say, I had a basis to assume I was a smart dude.
I wasn't happy and content with my life, though. I never had real friends, because I only hung out with people when they were my classmates/roommates/co-workers, and after we parted ways, I rarely if ever contacted them afterwards. I always enjoyed doing things you usually do in solitude more, because when I was alone, I wouldn't be afraid that someone could hurt me for being different. Because of that, I was never in a romantic relationship.
High School.
Still, life was going okay. By the end of school, I kind of accepted my social deficiency and I wanted to focus on improving the world and become a successful person - for myself. I was facing a dilemma, though. Despite the fact that I was doing great in school, the idea of having to invest four years of my time into studying something really specific, and then having to work another 20-30 years on the same job was terrifying, because I had no idea what I liked to do! Nothing seemed interesting to me, I didn't have a passion for doing anything... Thanks to my video game addiction, which made me lazy as fuck, probably. I also needed to meet my criteria for success with my future job, which included being financially successful. I grew up in top 1% income family, so... I always felt the pressure to outperform or at least match my parents' income.
Enter trading. My dad discovered investing several years ago (we don't live in US, so most of the people aren't as financially savvy, so he never thought about investing before then). I was always curious about financial independence and markets, but now I was seeing it all done in front of me, I realized that it might be a good opportunity to make a lot of money and become successful without being socially adept, which is something absolutely required in business or politics. So, I asked my father to open a brokerage account for me in the US, and started swing trading (trading in weekly/monthly time frames). I could only trade slow and small because of the trade restrictions put on accounts <$25k and <21yo in the US. Still, it was going well, but in hindsight I was just lucky to be there during a great bull market.
Even before I thought trading and more importantly investing were the ways smart people make money. I thought simply because I was conventionally smart, I had a talent or an innate ability to pick innovative stocks and do venture investing when I grow some capital. I truly believed in that long before I was introduced to financial markets, I believed that my surface level understanding of multiple areas of cutting edge and emerging technology would give me an edge compared to all the other investors.
US Community College and Return Back.
In the end, I've decided I want to go to a US community college and study finance and become a trader and later an investor, but I didn't want to work for a fund or something like that (lazy ass). I wanted to use my knowledge and skill and my own money to grow my net worth and make a living. I didn't really like the process of trading, I just needed the money to live by while I was trying to figure out what else to do with my life. Because I thought I were smart, I thought this would come easily to me. Boy was I wrong. From the nicest of conditions in my hometown, I was suddenly moved into a foreign setting, on the other side of the planet away form my family and mates, with a video game addiction and laziness that ruined my daily routine and studying as well. The fact that I didn't like my major was not helping. My grades fell from A- in the first quarter to C+ in the last. I gained +30% from my normal weight. I was stressed out, not going outside and sitting at my computer desk for days at a time, skipping all the classes I could if they were not absolutely essential for my grades, living on prepared foods. I never got out of my shell and barely talked to anyone in English, all of my friends were Russian speaking. I wasted an opportunity to improve my speaking, although aside from that my English skills satisfy me.
By the end of community college, last summer, I was left with B grades that wouldn't let me transfer anywhere decent, and the extreme stress that I put myself through started taking a toll on my mental health. I was planning to take a break and go back to Russia for several months, and transfer back to a US uni this winter. Needless to say, you can't run from yourself. It didn't really become much better after a few months in Russia. I didn't want to study finance anymore, because it was boring and I was exhausted. I still had the video game addiction, still was lazy and gained some more extra pounds of weight. I was not sleeping at all, extremely sleep deprived for months. Because of this and lack of mental stimulation I started to become dumber. And all that was happening where I didn't really have to do anything: not study or work, just sit around the house and do whatever I wanted. Turns out, these conditions didn't help me to get out of the incoming depression.
Finally, around November, when I already sent out all of my transfer applications and already got some positive answers from several universities, I knew I didn't have much time left at home, and I had to leave soon. But I really, really didn't want to go back. It was scarier than the first time. I was afraid of new changes, I just wanted for the time to stop and letting me relax, heal... I was having suicidal thoughts and talked about it with my family and my therapist. They were all supportive and helped me as much as they could. But I was the only person who could really help myself. If I wanted to breathe freely, I had to admit defeat and not go back to the US to continue my education. It was extremely hard at first, but then I just let go. I decided to find a temporary job as an English tutor and give myself time to think. Then I remembered that I had a bunch of money in my trading account. I still thought that I was pretty smart, despite failing college, so I figured, why not try move it to Russian brokers who don't have trading restrictions, and do it full time? Which is exactly what I did. And I started to study trading all by myself at a fast pace. I was now trading full time and it was going sideways: +10% in December, -20% in January. Then, something incredible happened. I was already in a shitty place in life, but I still had some hope for my future. Things were about to get much worse. I'm in the late January, and I discovered for myself that the whole financial industry of the world was a fraud.
Brief Explanation of My Discoveries.
In the image of the financial industry, there are several levels of perceived credibility.
In the bottom tier, there is pure gambling. In my country, there were periods when binary options trading and unreliable Forex brokers were popular among common folk, but these were obvious and unsophisticated fraudsters who were one step away from being prosecuted. There are also cryptocurrencies that don't hold any value and are also used only for speculation/redistribution of wealth. There is also a wonderful gambling subreddit wallstreetbets where most users don't even try to hide the fact that what they are doing is pure gambling. I love it. But the thing is, this is trading/investing for the people who have no idea what it is, and most people discredit it as a fraud, which it, indeed, is. These examples are 99% marketing/public image and 1% finance. But these offer x10-1000 returns in the shortest time span. Typical get-rich-quick schemes, but they attract attention.
Then, there is trading tier. You can have multiple sub levels here, in the bottom of this tier we would probably have complex technical analysis (indicators) and daily trading/scalping. I was doing this in the DecembeJanuary. At the top would be people who do fundamental analysis (study financial reports) and position trade (monthly time frames). Now, there is constant debate in the trading community whether technical analysis or fundamental analysis is better. I have a solid answer to the question. They work in the same way. Or rather, they don't work at all.
You'd ask: "Why you didn't discover this earlier? You were in this financial thing for several years now!" Well, you see, unlike on the previous level, here millions of people say that they actually believe trading works and there is a way to use the available tools to have great returns. Some of these people actually know that trading doesn't work, but they benefit from other traders believing in it, because they can sell them courses or take brokerage fees from them. Still, when there are millions around you telling you that it works, even a non-conformist like me would budge. Not that many people actually participate in the markets, so I thought that by being in this minority made me smart and protected from fraudsters. Lol. All it took for me to discover the truth is to accidentally discover that some technical indicators give random results, do a few google searches, reach some scientific studies which are freely available and prove that technical and fundamental analysis don't work. It was always in front of me, but the fucking trading community plugged my ears and closed my eyes shut so I wasn't able to see it. Trading usually promises 3-15% gain a month.
A huge shock, but surely there was still a way for me to work this out? Active investing it is!
The next level, active investing, is different from trading. You aim for 15-50% yearly returns, but you don't have to do as much work. You hold on to stocks of your choice for years at a time, once in a while you study the markets, re balance your portfolio, etc. Or you invest your money in a fund, that will select the stocks of their choice and manage their and your portfolio for you. For a small fee of course. All of these actions are aimed at trying to outperform the gain the market made as a whole, and so called index funds, which invest in basically everything and follow the market returns - about 7-10% a year. And if I ever had any doubts in trading, I firmly believed that active investing works since I was a little kid (yes I knew about it back then). And this is where the real fraud comes in.
The whole Wall Street and every broker, every stock exchange in the world are a part of a big fraud. Only about 10-20% of professional fund managers outperform the market in any 15 year period. If you take 30 years, this dwindles to almost nothing, which means that no one can predict the markets. These people have no idea what they are doing. Jim Cramer is pure show-business and has no idea what's going on. Warren Buffet gained his fortune with pure luck, and for every Buffet there are some people who made only a million bucks and countless folks who lost everything.
Wall Street. They have trillions of dollars and use all that money and power and marketing to convince you that there is a way to predict where the stocks are going without being a legal insider or somehow abusing the law. They will make you think you can somehow learn from them where to invest your money on your own or they will make you believe that you should just give it to them and they will manage it for you, because they know how everything works and they can predict the future using past data.
They won't. They don't. They can't. There are studies and statistics to prove it countless times over the span of a 100 years. But they will still charge you exchange fees, brokerage fees and management fees anyway. And they also manipulate certain studies, lobby where and when they need it, and spread misinformation on an unprecedented scale, creating a positive image of themselves. And everyone falls for that. Billions of people around the globe still think it's all legit.
Passive index investing is the last level. You just put your money in the market and wait. Markets will go up at a predetermined rate. If there's a crisis, in 10 years no one will even remember. Markets always go up in the end. But passive index investing can only give you only 7% inflation-adjusted returns a year. Not enough to stop working or even retire early, unless you have a high-paying job in a first-world country. I don't.
Despite all that, to put it simply, this is the only type of investing that works and doesn't involve any kind of fraud or gambling. It's the type of investing that will give you the most money. If you want to know why it is like that and how to do it, just go to financialindependence. They know this stuff better than any other sub. Better than investing, trading or any other sub where non-passive-index investing is still discussed as viable strategy.
Back to me.
My whole being was fucked over, my hopes and dreams and understanding of success and how this world works were shattered. I realized, I had no future in financial industry, because only middlemen make money in there, and I quit college needed to get there. Frankly, I wouldn't want to work there even if I had the opportunity. The pay is good, but the job is boring and I wouldn't want to be a part of this giant scheme anyway. But even if I wanted to go back, I also couldn't. Russia is in a worsening crisis and my parents could no longer afford a US university and now with coronavirus it's even worse. Good thing I quit before it all happened. I learned a valuable lesson and didn't lose that much money for it (only about 10% of my savings). God knows where it would lead me if I continued to be delusional. But now that my last temporary plans for the future were scrapped, I had no idea what to do next.
The future.
With the reality hitting me, I would lie if I say it didn't all come full circle and connect to my past. I realized that I was stupid and not intelligent, because I was living in a made-up world for years now. But even if I were intelligent, pure wit would not give me the success and fortune that I was craving, because trading and active investing were a no-go for me, and business/politics require a very different, extroverted mindset, different education and interest from my own. My only redeeming quality in a hopeless introvert world, my perceived intelligence was taken away from me and rendered useless at the same time.
Besides, failing at that one thing made me insecure about everything and now I think of myself as an average individual. So, if 8 out of 10 businesses fail, I shouldn't start one because I will probably fail. And if most politicians don't get anywhere, why should I bother? If average salary in my country is X, I shouldn't hope for more. I stopped believing in my ability to achieve something. First, I failed at education and now I failed... Professionally? I don't know how to describe it, but my life recently was just an emotional roller coaster. I just feel like a very old person and all I want calmness and stability in my life. I was very lazy before just because, but now I feel like I also don't want to do anything because I feel I would just fail. It feels better now I don't have to worry about trading anymore and I got rid of that load... But I am still miserable and perhaps worse than ever, maybe I just don't understand and feel it because I've become slow and numb. The only positive thing that happened to me recently, is that I finally started losing weight and about 1/4 of the way back to my normal weight.
As for my future, am looking at several possibilities here. So far the parents are allowing my miserable life to continue and they let me live with them and buy me food. I don't need anything else right now. But it can't go on like this forever. The thought of having a mundane low-paying job in this shithole of a country depresses me. I will probably temporarily do English tutoring if there's demand for such work. My old school friends want me to help them in their business and my dad wants me to help him in his, I and probably should, but I feel useless, pathetic and incapable of doing anything of value. And business just seems boring, difficult and too stressful for me right now. Just not my cup of tea.
I am also looking at creative work. I love video games, music, films and other forms of art. I love the games most though, so I am looking into game dev. I don't really like programming, I have learned some during school years, but the pay would probably be higher for a programmer than an creator of any kind of art. However, I think I would enjoy art creation much more, but I don't have any experience in drawing and only some limited experience in music production. And I am not one of these kids who always had a scrapbook with them at school. Having to make another life choice paralyzes me. I am leaning towards art. I don't feel confident in my ability to learn this skill from scratch, but I think it's my best shot at finding a job that would make me happy.
So perhaps, when this whole pandemic is over, I'll go to Europe and get my degree, get a job there and stay. American Dream is dead to me, and Europe is cheaper, closer, safe and comfortable. Just the thing for a person who feels like they are thrice their real age.
Outro.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. Special thanks if you read the whole thing, it means a whole lot to me, an internet stranger. But even if no one reads it, feels good to get this off my chest. I actually cried during writing some parts. Holy shit, this might be the longest and smartest looking thing my dumbed down head could manage to generate since college. I hope that you're having a great day. Stay healthy and be careful during this fucking pandemic. All the best.
submitted by OberV0lt to TrueOffMyChest [link] [comments]

me_irlgbt survey results! really long post! this took me 6 days! exclamation mark!

Long post. REALLY long post. buckle in.

TLDR at the end

First off, thanks to everybody who responded! There were 467 responses in total, which is amazing. I know filling out surveys online can be boring, so I really appreciate you all indulging me for this.
A few notes before we get started!
Now. Let's get started with the results.

Total survey responses: 467

DEMOGRAPHICS SECTION

AGE: 460 responses

https://imgur.com/thGOvqi
As we can see here, the majority of respondents are between the ages of 13-24, with most being 18-24. No surprise, this pretty much tracks with the general demographics of reddit. We have 3 tiny kiddos who responded, bless them. One person over 60, heyhowareyougorge. It’s interesting to cross-reference the age demographics with the type of posts we see here. I’m in my early 20s, which in gay years is like being in your early 40s, and i’ve been out for years. I see a lot of closet or coming out type posts, which I personally don’t relate to as much any more, but that totally tracks with the amount of youngins we have here. If you’re looking to karma whore, here’s the data you need.

COUNTRY: 457 responses

https://imgur.com/xwAb3g8
So, clearly very US-heavy. Again, not a surprise here for a US-based website. I would like to confess to purposefully splitting up the UK demographics out of sheer curiosity too; I’m Scottish and wanted to know how many fellow Scots I had. Happenin troops.
I also wanted to use this to see how many people were from countries with less legal protections for being LGBT. The countries in here I’d particularly like to highlight are:
Dominica, where it is illegal to be gay. Penalties include a 10 year prison sentence, or “incarceration in a psychiatric institution.” Absolutely no legal protections for any LGBT people. That’s pretty fucked.
India has no legally recognised same sex unions, no same sex marriage, no adoption, but all of these things have been proposed. some anti-discrimination laws. They have a third gender option, called hijra. Trans people do have some legal recognition of gender, which is nice. As far as I’m aware, this situation is pretty unique to India.
Qatar, where same-sex sexual activity is punished by fines, imprisonment, or the death penalty. Obviously no legal protections.
Russia, where same-sex sexual activity is technically legal, but in Chechnya, it is heavily punished. Gay people are abducted and sent to concentration camps in this region. Russia has done little to prevent this.
Singapore, where there is technically punishment of up to 2 years in prison for male same-sex sexual activity, but this is apparently not enforced any more. F/F is legal though.
Malaysia, where it remains illegal to be gay. Punishments can be up to 20 years in prison, fines, or whippings, just for engaging in same-sex sexual activity. However, a 2016 court ruling did recognise gender changes as a fundamental constitutional right, according to wikipedia.
I’d like us to take a moment to remember, especially if you’re from the US, that the fight for LGBT rights is far from over. It’s not some distant thing. Even people on this good gay subreddit could face severe punishments for their identity. If you are in a country with legal protections, take a moment to be thankful. If you can, please educate yourself on the state of LGBT rights in these countries, and see if you can do anything to help.

ETHNICITY: 463 responses

https://imgur.com/hk6KINj
Again, not particularly surprising results here. Reddit is a pretty overwhelmingly white website. I’m a full blown white person so I’m not sure how much I can really say here without verging out of my own lane. I do think we should keep this in mind however, because as a largely white subreddit we may not have so many people calling out racism when they see it. I don’t want POC to feel ignored here just because they make up a smaller percentage of our demographics, so I welcome any POC responses here as to how we’re doing with that. I personally haven’t seen too much racism, as the bigotry we tend to get is centred around our lgbt identities. Whenever I see it it tends to be anti-black, and usually confined to usernames. I do try to ban that whenever I see it, but I’m only one person, so I do rely on you to report things to me!

GENDER: 467 responses

https://imgur.com/GOMLltE
https://imgur.com/BY9eRfU
Now, this is the one I’ve had to go in and fuck with. This, and all the other charts, are basically just the raw data in visual form. The chart above is each individual response, allowing for those who selected multiple options. So, rather than counting every time someone selected “male”, then “nonbinary”, etc, it’s counting every time a person selected “male + cisgender,” “nonbinary + queer”, if that makes sense.
This chart here is the one I’ve fucked with, that just has the amount of times an option was selected.
https://imgur.com/ejdAKm9
I basically simplified the data here. Whenever someone said something like unsure, unknown, etc, this was put under “questioning”. The “other” responses are the only ones that received significant editing. These were long-form responses that could not be parsed into simple answers, so here they are in their entirety.
Now, I could probably have parsed them into other categories, but honestly I thought this was more entertaining.
Some important things to remember when reading this data! * I collected it pretty poorly. I wasn’t aware of how google would collate it and i done goofed a bit. Take it with a pinch of salt. * once i “simplified” the data to look at how many times each option was selected, I ended up with almost 800 pieces of data. You’ll recall that only 467 people responded to the survey, so there is significant overlap. This is why I'm showing you two versions. The crossover is not fully clear, and there’s probably ways I could process this data better, but i’m gonna be real with y'all it’s a lot to wade through and I'm honestly just bad at this * This question allowed people to choose as many or as few labels as they wanted. Some people listed their gender as just “transgender” with no other qualifiers, for example. Therefore this data should be treated as only a partial picture of the gender demographics of this subreddit

PRONOUNS: 464 responses

https://imgur.com/lsP8661
Again, I arguably messed up on the collection of results here, BUT, I do think it’s very interesting to see the combinations of pronouns people use. For example, I think it’s cool to see that, among those who use they/them pronouns
Now obviously it’s gonna be difficult to argue for these results to be generalised to the population at large, but this does support what I’ve seen anecdotally for a while; neutral pronouns are often used alongside non-neutral pronouns. We might not have seen this if I had been a better researcher.
Here is the version with my own editing, simplification, and parsing of “other” results:
https://imgur.com/6sR4w3U
Other results are as follows, presented without comment
Among neopronoun usage, we have specific examples of: * ve/ver * it/its
If we put this alongside the “other” responses that indicate neopronoun usage, we can say that 5 of our respondents use, or are comfortable using, neopronouns.
I think this is an interesting point to highlight, because common transphobe rhetoric is that people are using a “confusing” variety of pronouns. We have a generally trans-friendly sub (at least I hope so), and out of 464 respondents to this question, only 5 people indicated neopronoun usage. Could it be that this line of thinking, that people are using confusing newfangled pronouns, is just an uninformed scream from the ignorant?

SEXUALITY: 467 responses

https://imgur.com/CXVxEKc
Again, raw data. For this one I don’t feel it’s super necessary to go in and parse out who picked multiple things, because the data here seems kinda straightforward, if you’ll pardon the pun.
We have a lot of bi and pan people here. Again, it’s difficult to argue for the generalisation of these results, but this does support evidence of bisexual people making up the majority of the LGBT community. If we compare this to the by now well known findings from the Kinsey institute, this does support the belief that most people are likely neither a Kinsey 1 or a Kinsey 6, but somewhere in the middle. It’s not directly comparable because I didn’t use the same metrics, but it’s interesting to think about.
I also think it’s interesting to see so many straight respondents. Of course, this could just be trans people who are straight, but I know from the comments I’ve received that some people who responded are totally non-LGBT, just allies.
Also, shoutouts to “an absolute mess” and “just desperate for love”. Same, babes.

EDUCATION: 461 responses

There were enough “other” responses that I felt like I needed to go in and take those out, so here’s the raw data before I did that.
https://imgur.com/eguYGeK
And here is the simplified version
https://imgur.com/DZClNVV
Here are the “Other” responses
My favourite response is “IDK not american”. As we all know, education only exists in America.
Anyway, this pretty much tracks along the age demographics. With a population mostly aged between 13-24, it makes sense that the majority are high school or college educated.
Of course, it should be kept in mind that not everybody’s education is a linear or traditional experience, and won’t completely track with our age demographics.
Shoutouts to the 3-4 people with PhDs tho, mad respect.
And that wraps up our demographics section! Onto some of the cool shit.

PERSONAL LIFE SECTION

POLITICAL ALIGNMENT: 477/467

https://imgur.com/TUQNBVJ
Here’s the raw data. As you can see, there’s a lot of write-in responses. If you’ve spent any time hanging out on this subreddit, I don’t think it’s any shock to see how overwhelmingly left-leaning we are. I think this sort of goes with the territory of being an LGBT subreddit though, we do tend to develop liberal politics as an attempt to avoid homophobia and transphobia, and then from there it’s easy to fall into leftist politics, especially on places like Reddit.
Simplified data: https://imgur.com/isja5Kc
Other responses:
  • Don’t have these words in AUS
  • I have a hard time understanding all the different words, but I know I’m the opposite of Donald Trump
  • LibCenter
  • anarcho-communist
  • social libertarian
  • Hard to say since these terms mean slightly different things in different places/political climates
  • Whoever isn't a racist bigot
  • slutty sjw whos ready to bust a fat nut and shoot capitalists
  • angry *Governmental axis: libertarian. Economic axis: centrist. Social axis: progressive
  • I don't have a strict political alignment, I just think that every politician can have good ideas whatever their alignment is
  • I vote based on the current goals of each party
  • regulated markets, welfare capitalism, taco trucks on every corner. thank you for coming to my ted talk.
  • Whatever is Civil Rights
  • leftish antiauthoritarian
  • no one changes anything but rich mens pocket books
  • Progressive
  • Green
  • Prefer not to say
  • Independent
We’re clearly a very left-leaning subreddit here. I think it’s interesting that out of a total of 447 responses, only 9 disclosed that they were on the right-hand side of the political spectrum. Is this because only 4% of people round these parts are on the right, or is due to an unwillingness to identify with conservative politics, even on an anonymous survey? Difficult to know for sure. Interesting data tho amirite.
Also whoever answered “slutty sjw whos ready to bust a fat nut”, same girl

RELIGION 460/467

Raw data: https://imgur.com/oQQWZH9
Again, a fuckfest here, but even before we go in and parse things out we can see that 336/460 indicate atheist or agnostic beliefs. This sort of goes along with my hypothesis/unscientific belief that a majority of LGBT people are non-religious, or will find religion themselves later on. I personally would love to do research on the prevalence of found religion in later life, especially pagan/wiccan type beliefs, in LGBT people. I think a lot of us do really desire that sort of connection to spirituality, but can’t always get it from the religions we were raised in. This is from my perspective as a western white person raised around christian/catholic beliefs; I know there’s differences with, for example, Judaism, where it’s fully baked into the culture to question and argue with your own beliefs, so I know there’s a hell of a lot of cultural bias going into this assumption.
Simplified data
https://imgur.com/FimSsoh
I’ve kept Atheist/agnostic as separate categories, grouped the different Satanism responses, and again created an “other” category.
Other responses:
  • Both Christian and agnostic
  • Dragons
  • exmormon
  • I don't believe in a conscious force making decisions, but there is some sort of force underlying the physical world
  • idk man. dudeism?
  • Its a mix
  • Meh
  • None (not explicitly atheist or agnostic, just...ehhhhh)
  • Unitarian Universalist
  • Science Christian
Given that this is Reddit, I’m not surprised by the high amount of atheist/agnostic responses, given that the site still has a strong legacy left behind by the glory days of /atheist. With this bias in mind, I do still think this presents a compelling basis for further research on the religious affiliations of LGBT people.

RELATIONSHIP STATUS 465/467

https://imgur.com/vcrZae3
This one actually didn’t require much fucking with, so I’ve just presented the gently simplified data.
Other responses
  • In a queer-platonic relationship
  • I walk a lonley road, the only one that i have ever known.
  • I’m not really sure rn
  • It’s complicated
  • In a polyamorous relationship
  • I have a domme
  • Polyamorous
  • On a crash course to divorce :(
Wow we’re a single lot aren’t we
Honestly I think this correlates with the age demographics. If I were a better data analyst I’d go in and confirm this with the data, but I’m not, so I won’t. Knowing that we have a lot of younger people, who are more likely to have either no relationship or a frequently changing/unstable relationship status, this kinda seems about right. It would be interesting though to compare this with relationship data from other LGBT communities. I think we all know the struggles of finding available partners, especially when you are, as the data suggests, in high school or college. It’d be interesting to see if the high rate of single people here is due to a desire to seek out other LGBT people in order to gain a sense of community as well. Maybe LGBT people in a relationship feel they already have enough of a sense of community and belonging and are therefore less likely to seek out LGBT spaces online. That’ll require some good qualitative data tho which is time consuming. Could be really cool tho.

THOUGHTS ON TERFS 463/467

Raw data: https://imgur.com/CQ2hSu4
This was a big question. There’s a lot of write-in responses here, so I’ll go through those.
Simplified data
https://imgur.com/YwNUYsR
Other results, presented without comment
  • accept everyone or get the fuck out
  • Confused
  • Fuck TERFs
  • Fuck TERFs
  • Fuck TERFs
  • Fuck TERFs
  • Fuck TERFs seriously
  • Fuck them with the rustiest rake you can find
  • Hate them
  • [Dislike] However, I do not condone jokes of violence against Terfs
  • I don't even know what that is.
  • I don't know or care what that means
  • I hate them so god damned much even the mention of the word terf makes me wanna punch a *wall then vomit.
  • I have never heard of this
  • I have no idea who they are
  • Idk bout them
  • liquidate them
  • Never heard of them
  • Not sure exactly what that means but if I understand it right I dislike them because I support transgender people
  • punch them
  • strongly dislike is not enough
  • [just a transphobic pro-terf comment]
  • strongly dislike isn't strong enough.
  • TERF is a slur lol
  • terfs r trash
  • They can go to hell
  • They have no place
  • Too little experience with them to form a meaningful opinion
  • we should set them on fire
  • trans rights babey
I think this is a pretty conclusive result. Of the 29 “other” responses, 20 of them indicate Dislike to Strongly Dislike. 5 respondents said Strongly Like, and 1 said Like. These respondents were the only ones who also put in positive “other” responses. 82% of responses were Strongly Dislike.
This is honestly going to inform my moderation style. I always remove outwardly transphobic comments, especially if they mirror the “rational people” comment in the responses above. However, seeing such a strong dislike of TERFs will likely mean I’ll remove more comments that are gently TERFy but not as explicit.
I do want to reiterate, this is a feminist space. I personally am a strong feminist. I hold some more radical feminist views. I also believe trans women are women, they have a place in the feminist movement, and in women’s spaces. You can absolutely be a trans INCLUSIVE radical feminist. Feminism is almost useless without intersectionality. Trans people are valid and welcomed here. Transphobia will never be tolerated here. Not up for debate.

THOUGHTS ON TRANSMEDICALISTS 460/467

Raw data:
https://imgur.com/rWZFUBp
Again, lots of write in responses. Same script as last time
Simplified data:
https://imgur.com/sQro5dq
Other results
  • At first glance, this notion makes sense to me, but I know to little about the issue to form a meaningful opinion
  • Dissagree w/ but not dislike as people
  • Don't know whether they're right or wrong since I'm not trans therefore can't confirm shit
  • Fuck truscum
  • Fuck truscum.
  • I can understand where they're coming from, but i think it's a harmful ideology all the same
  • I don't agree transition is necessary, since sometimes staying in the closet is the only way to survive. But dysphoria of some kind is necessary.
  • I don't understand how people can be trans if they've never experienced Dysphoria. Not being a dick, i just can't find an explaination.
  • I get where they're coming from
  • I have no opinion. If somebody says they're trans, all i want are their preferred pronouns.
  • I haven't heard about this before, I'd have to read up on it before giving an opinion!
  • I just need to shout about the exclusionary nature of the stance
  • I think dysphoria is necessary, but not medically transitioning
  • I’d err on the side of caution because it sounds like it could be ehhh. I don’t know enough about *the trans part of the LGBT+ community to properly answer this one
  • I’m not sure about them yet
  • It isnt nessacsry but many people do experience it
  • N/A
  • Neutral as long as they aren’t excessively pushy or rude about it.
  • New to this concept tbh
  • No opinion
  • Non-binary trans is still trans.
  • Not enough reading or research done on my part to have an informed opinion
  • Not familiar with this topic enough to say
  • punch them too
  • Therapists should treat it
  • There is background to their points but their attitude stunts progress for all trans people
  • they're very flammable too
  • trans people are trans regardless of what gender affirmations, if any, they choose to undergo. ❤️
  • trans rights babey
  • uncle terfs, more or less.
  • Unknown
  • wanting to be a different gender = gender dysphoria, so 90% of the time transmedicalism is just *pointless gatekeeping
This is the one I definitely needed trans people’s opinions on. I am cis-ish (androgynous butchy lesbian who occasionally likes a cheeky they/them pronoun but is for all intents and purposes a woman/dyke) and so feel entirely unqualified to weigh in and decide which side of the issue is “correct”.
  • 56.2% of responses indicate either Dislike or Strongly Dislike transmedicalists
  • Of the “other” responses, 15/29 indicate a dislike or disagreement with transmedicalist ideology
  • There is a large amount of “neutral” or “no opinion” responses. I can assume a lot of these are from cis people who, like me, feel unqualified to weigh in.
This is also likely to inform my moderation style somewhat. Again, I always remove blatant transphobia when I see it, and this includes anybody stating that nonbinary people are not valid, not real, etc. From these results, I’m going to assume this is the right move, and continue with this strategy.
I personally lean towards not believing in transmedicalism. Some of this may very well stem from my feminist views, but I generally think gender is extremely fluid, and that labels are only worth what the individual believes they represent. If any of you have an understanding of sociology, I tend towards a Weberian/symbolic interactionist approach towards labels in general. Therefore I believe whatever a person identifies as is probably the right identity for them, regardless of what I may think of it. This isn’t necessarily relevant to your understanding of the survey, but it may be relevant to your understanding of my moderation actions.
That wraps up this section! This was a long one, thanks for sticking with us <3

ME_IRLGBT OPINIONS

THOUGHTS ON THE SUBREDDIT 457/467

https://imgur.com/VUwfXtq
Finally, some data i don’t need to fuck around with. Note to self, do more ratings like this.
Obviously as a mod I’m happy to see that opinions trend above 5 here. The average score we’re getting here is 7.87 (2dp) and honestly, I’m down. If that was a movie on IMDB, that shit would be a pretty well-received movie. The most frequent response here is 8/10, and most responses are between 7-10, which tells me people generally enjoy hanging out here. I know there’s always a strong chance for bias here, because the people who are likely to respond to a kinda long survey for a subreddit are likely to be people who either really enjoy it, or really don’t. However, even with that bias, I’m gonna just take the W if that’s cool with you.

THOUGHTS ON MODERATION 445/467

https://imgur.com/pmkKyuC
Slightly lower trend than overall subreddit opinions, but the average is almost the same at 7.73 (2dp).
Since sending out this survey I have made some slight tweaks to my moderation style, as well as making some additions to the automoderator. We’ll chat about that later. I’m glad the overall trend here is positive though; I don’t want this to be a place where you all just end up resenting me.

DO WE NEED MORE MODS? 428/467

https://imgur.com/gwZuKtM
Other responses:
  • 🤷
  • don’t care
  • I don't know. I'm new to Reddit
  • i dont have a reddit account, and i very rarely check comments. I dont think i'm the best person to answer this.
  • I dont pay attention enough to say
  • I just discovered this subreddit like yesterday so I don't really know
  • I think we need mods who do more than just let people police the sub themselves. We may only need a new mod if the current mods don’t change how they mod. Respond to reports is what I’m saying (I don’t see almost any removed comments ever)
  • Idk
  • idk i just enjoy the memes
  • idk im just lurking here
  • Idk. How many moderators do you have?
  • if they're good moderators
  • maybe? i think a little more mod participation would be cool. just seeing admins in comments laughing and joking along with us, and sharing in the memes. i enjoy the hands-off approach but that doesn't mean i don't ever wanna see more mods chilling out and sorta like.,..... making their presence known and joining in on the fun!!! yknow it makes it feel safer
  • no idea tbh but it seems to be running ok
So the general answer here is that we maybe need more mods. Far more people said no than said yes.
Personal interpretation is that people may have felt more comfortable answering “maybe” than answering “yes”. I know that having one active mod for a 90k subreddit is not usual, and by now most subreddits will have gotten a couple more people in. I won’t speak for parlayv but, if you think i’m hands-off, she’s like, not even got hands. Hands not on this plane. We did create the subreddit together (IIRC I came up with the name and she was like “omg that needs to be a subreddit” and then, all of a sudden, it was) but I’m the one who pretty much runs it. I don’t think she’d take issue with me saying that. She’s too busy playing runescape and smoking weed anyway lmao
So, given the general results, I will look at bringing more mods on. I’ll probably pull from people I know first, and if that doesn’t work, may open up applications later. If this happens you’ll all know about it.
I’ll address some of the comments at the very end. Your concerns are not going unnoticed!

THOUGHTS ON RESEARCHERS 459/467

https://imgur.com/Px4XqGQ
Another very similar score, but this time the most frequent response by far is a 10. Average score is 7.84
This one was kinda important for me. I made the decision to allow researchers to post their surveys here. Full disclosure, when researchers come to me in modmail, my key concern is that they’ve followed all ethical procedures. So far, every single one has been done through a university in an official capacity, which means they have to prove they’ve gone through the ethics of their work and it’s been approved before they can even start researching. Whenever I’ve checked them out they seem completely fine, and I’ve so far not received any complaints, which makes me feel good.
I personally believe research is incredibly important for us to understand ourselves, as well as other people. I’m obviously biased as hell here because I’m a social sciences student but the whole reason I’m interested in this field is the benefits I believe it can bring to us. So if it’s cool with you all, I’m going to take this result as support for research posts. For now I don’t foresee any issues with frequency but we’ll revisit this if that becomes a problem. I’d like to give you all a sincere thank you for your positive reception to these posts <3

SHOULD WE BAN TERFS OR TRANSMEDICALISTS? 461/467

This question specified “regardless of rulebreaking”, meaning should they be banned on sight if they say they identify as either a TERF or a transmedicalist. I also meant if they posted in TERF or transmedicalist subreddits, but I didn’t specify this, so I won’t use that in my analysis of this data.
https://imgur.com/o1fevKC
Other responses
  • Allow them only if they don't say anything transphobic on me_irlgbt
  • ban 'em when they post inflammatory stuff to bait responses
  • allow transmeds to flair their posts/create separate sub
  • only ban Transmedicalists if they’re being dicks about it
  • don't know enough about transmedicalists to say
  • Ban transmedicalists, do not ban TERFs
  • Definitely ban TERFs, I just don't really know much about trans medicalists, so I feel weird making a definitive statement about them.
  • Definitely ban TERFs. I’m neutral on transmedicalists
  • Forum should not be allowed to become a hostile environment. They can easily do that.
  • I don't know the context behind transmedicalists but if they're anything like terfs then yes ban them
  • I think a distinction must be made between hate and ignorance. Obvious hate should naturally be answered with a ban, but rule-breaking content arising from possible ignorance should be met with a removal, private warning and, most importantly, directing the poster toward resources to educate themselves.
  • I think there is more ground to talk with transmedicalists but that I would prefer not to deal with them. TERFs should be banned regardless of circumstance.
  • I’m not sure how i feel about just “banning” people but i disagree with them both
  • if being mean
  • If making people uncomfortable
  • If they are strongly voicing there options, even in other sub, that may be harmful.
  • Keep them on a shorter leash
  • Maybe? Or at least make posting that stuff against the rules
  • No opinion
  • Only ban when breaking rules, but dismissing trans women & gnc/nb trans peeps should be against the rules
  • Only if they are putting forth their beliefs in a way to claim that people are not valid.
  • Still don't know anything about the transmedicalists but ban the terfs
  • TERFs have no rights and should go. Transmedicalists are... Kinda difficult? I used to consider myself trans and sorta get where they're coming from. I think it's just a generational issue? I don't think they should be banned outright, like TERFs should, but it should be made very clear that MeIRLGBT isn't the place to discuss that
  • Yeah, but only if you are sure they are terfs/transmed
  • yes, because they're harmful to trans communities and this subreddit should be safe.
Again, a generally anti-terf attitude, which is expected from previous questions.
Once again, this is mostly to inform my moderation style. I am hesitant to ban people because I don’t want to be seen as a powertripping mod out to get everybody. These results, alongside the other terf/transmed ones, are kind of encouraging me to take a slightly heavier hand than I currently am. Again, some specific responses at the end!

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OF? 98/467

This was complete free-entry, so I’ve gone in and grouped a bunch of the responses together.
  • Ace content: 3
  • Bi content: 4
  • Less bigots
  • Positivity/wholesome shit: 4
  • Trans content: 5
  • Commie shit: 2
  • Garlic bread: 2
  • That Gay Shit: 13
  • OC
  • More activity in general: 5
  • POC content
  • Memes: 25
  • NB content
  • Questioning content
  • Women
  • Intersex content
  • Surveys: 2
  • allowing different titles
  • mod posts for awareness days (ie bisexuality awareness, TDOR, etc)
  • more response to reports
  • peace, love, and understanding
  • a monthly challenge to make themed memes
  • clarity as to what this neat little subreddit is about
  • support threads/posts
Other responses were generally just “nothin, we good”, so that makes up the rest of the responses.
Further answers at the end!

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE LESS OF? 75/467

  • ”Hello gays”. Not everybody in /me_irlgbt is gay.
  • [i removed these comments for being transphobic lol]: 2
  • trolls/bigots: 21
  • That Het Shit: 3
  • That Gay Shit
  • surveys
  • reposts: 6
  • text posts
  • non-meme content: 6
  • baby yoda
  • Capitalism.
  • Christmas decorations in October
  • Contrapoints memes
  • self-deprecating humour: 2
  • equating tops/bottoms to personality or body types. this isn't yoai it's real life, and i know this is more of an overall issue with the gay community but it's pretty prevalent on this sub
  • MYSELF
  • i hope the rest of your day is the best of your day.
Okay to the people who said they want less of themselves and less gay shit you are in the wholeass wrong place are you okay
Reposts seem to be a common issue. Could you lot do me a favour and post in the comments what you think are common reposts? I come on and browse the sub but I really rely on things you report to me, so I don’t always see common reposts.
As far as specific content you don’t like, I’m afraid that’s gonna be a self-directed thing for yall. Downvote the non-rulebreaking content you don’t like and hopefully people will get the message!
Lol @ the one person who said less surveys. Ur in one. Cant stop wont stop x

ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD?

ily, thank you, etc
This shit sweet as hell thank you for taking the time to add it in at the end ily
“all my answers need the addendum of “I am an idiot, and there are many things I don’t know”
Gurl same
Hi
Hi. how u doin
I am a gay
Absolutely. We love that for you.
[bee movie script]
Hi. no. dislike.
Comrades! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
There’s like 5 of you that said this and i love it
imagine being sega and not working towards creating and publishing a new jet set radio future game; absolutely criminal
Imagine being sega. Can’t relate
Perhaps a link in the side bar we can click to escape the subreddit, especially on mobile if possible.
Honestly not a bad idea. I’ll look into this.
Please just add the QA to the name. It’s 2 letters
I’m sorry, i can’t change the subreddit name. I’ll add it to the sidebar tho <3
Sexual attraction is bourgeois
Idk what this means but it is now one of the central tenets of my faith
Thanks for all the “other” options
You’re welcome it made like, 100x more work for me, but i kinda like that we have a smidge of qualitative data alongside all the quantitative shit.
Thanks for letting me participate despite my non LGBT status
Thanks for being chill!
You people need to calm down. I can sense that this energy primarily comes from North America, so I will explain. The level of discrimination and the lack of basic human rights are so extreme, people cannot stand it anymore even if they are not fully aware of these subconscious vibes, so they need to pull extremely in the other direction to make up for this. And hence you have this kind of subculture that emerges as result. The problem is that, you people are as bad as the other end of the problem because you're as extreme, and it translates into over the top aggression and people so insanely touchy they see an attack in absolutely everything, even if they are not being attacked. Become aware of these energies, and chill.
Gurl are you like okay? Do you need a lie down? Some fruit snacks? Everything okay at home?

ADDRESSING COMMENTS

“I think we need mods who do more than just let people police the sub themselves. We may only need a new mod if the current mods don’t change how they mod. Respond to reports is what I’m saying (I don’t see almost any removed comments ever)”
I’m gonna hold my hands up here, I have generally sucked ass at this. I rely almost completely on you lot reporting things to me, but for the longest time I had a big ol mod queue that was just overwhelming to look at. I’ve made changes to this in the past few weeks, including
*expanding automod scripts. Automod now deletes certain slurs automatically, as well as any comment that might be mentioning or encouraging suicide. This is a big help because obviously trolls will rely on their old faithful slurs. I was hesitant to do this because I think we all have a right to slur reclamation, but I think the benefits outweigh that right now. *I got a fancy new mod plugin! It’s called toolbox, and basically just tells me whenever a new post is made so I can approve it or not, and it tells me when I have new reports. It’s made the whole experience less stressful *I spent a day addressing all the shit in the queue. The subreddit used to be like, full anarchy, so there were reports going back 2 years. Again, I take responsibility for that. I’ve been a shitty mod and I am addressing that.
I hope these changes help address those concerns.
” i think a little more mod participation would be cool. just seeing admins in comments laughing and joking along with us, and sharing in the memes”
I’ve honestly been thinking about this comment for a while. I try to avoid posting here because, again, I’ve seen a lot of criticism of mods who participate too much in their own subs, especially when they distinguish their posts. I don’t wanna look like a dick, yknow? But I like this comment and I’m gonna try and just hang out with you lot more <3
Mod posts for awareness days (ie bisexuality awareness, TDOR, etc)
I kinda think this idea slaps. Does anybody have a calendar of important LGBT dates? I think we could tie this into the other comment about challenges for themed memes, where appropriate.
Clarity as to what this neat little subreddit is about
Me_irlgbt is a queer shitposting subreddit. It’s generally for memes and queer fuckery. Not selfies. That’s about it.
Support threads/posts
Okay, so, the reason I’m not going to do this is because I feel that if I post a thread for support, I then have a duty of care to anybody who posts in it. I do not have the capability, time, or knowledge to provide that duty of care, so I feel it would be strongly unethical to do this, regardless of how good the intentions are. I think it’s a well-meaning idea, I just wanted to clarify why I’m personally not comfortable with it.
Not everybody in me_irlgbt is gay. Can we have more inclusivity?
When I use “gay” on this subreddit, especially if I’m referring to the general mass of users, I wholeheartedly mean it in a community way. Like, “we, the gays” as contrapoints once said. You are welcome here. This isn’t the only response along these lines, so I will keep it in mind when making changes.
And we’re done! Holy shit that was a long post. This has taken me 6 days to edit. Again, reiterating from the top, I’m not an adept researchedata analyst, so I’m sure many people could’ve done a MUCH better job looking at these results, but I think this will do for now.
Thank you so much to everybody who responded. It’s been really interesting for me to have a look at this, and pretty cool to get to fuck around with all this data. Thank you ilysm <3

TL;DR

  • The population on this subreddit trends young, mostly 18-24
  • Most people live in the US
  • Most people are white
  • We have slightly more male-identified people than female, but not significantly so.
  • Roughly a quarter of respondents are trans-identified.
  • Most people use she/her or he/him pronouns. Around 18% use they/them, with the rest “other” or neopronouns.
  • About 60% of the people here identify as bisexual or pansexual, 17% lesbian, 16% gay, 17% asexual. These responses do overlap with many people using multiple labels for themselves.
  • mostly high school or college educated, which makes sense with the age demographics
  • overwhelmingly left-leaning politically
  • generally positive feelings towards the subreddit/mods
  • mostly atheist/agnostic religious views
  • 74% of respondents are single/not in a relationship.
  • 88% of respondents do not like TERFs
  • about half of respondents do not like transmedicalists, but 28% are neutral
  • 60% of respondents think we maybe need more mods
  • other responses just need to be read lol
submitted by lowkeyterrible to me_irlgbt [link] [comments]

DEMOLITION DAYS, PART 90

Continuing
We had three groups of demo wire: mine adit, ANFO on the mine floor, and just because, some black powder placed into the old, but unused, drill holes in the mine face. The party room was going to be detonated remotely. We decided to blow the face first, then the ANFO, then the adit. After the applause died down, I’d trigger the party room. Then, the final drinking light for this mine site would be lit. Tomorrow, we pack up and travel south.
But first!
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to your first abandoned mine demolition. This hole in the ground has become a menace, alas, through no fault of its own. But steps must be taken to remove it as a threat to society; to protect society from itself. I’ll let you cogitate over the irony of that statement at your leisure. Please, folks. This once was the provider of many a family’s daily bread, butter, and beer. A moment of silence. A moment of reverence. A moment of reflection. This is the place where you cut your subsurface teeth, where you lost your mining virginity, and now…we’re really gonna pop yer cherry!”
They laughed! They actually laughed loud and long. I was amazed. This was just my B-list material.
Dr. D and I alternated countdowns, Lucas was manning the detonators. Everybody, even the cooks, dish machine operators, and custodians joined in on the Safety Protocol song.
First went the face/black powder. A loud, rolling BOOM followed by the mine blowing a huge white smoke ring skyward. Not bad for a first shot.
Then the ANFO. Lucas needed to use the recently acquired replacement for Ol’ Reliable, my personal plunger-actuated blasting machine, as we needed the voltage and amperage. The ANFO shook everyone in camp, even set those in suspended hammocks rocking.
“We’re over a half-mile from the mine and you can actually here see the effects of low-explosives.”, I said, regarding the swinging hammocks. “Did the Earth move for you, too?”
Even that got a laugh.
Next came the mine adit itself. The sharp cracks of the dynamite were so distinctly different than the rolling thrump of the ANFO. People were getting a good physical demonstration of the differences in different types of explosives.
Everyone was about to clap, hoot, or holler, and head for the bar or leave when I shouted them down.
“What are you doing? Where are you going? We’re not done here yet, folks. We have a little bonus. Relax, sit back, and enjoy the death of the cess-pit. The end of the fetid party room. The cessation of the sewer some people around here went to have fun. Want fun? What could possibly be more fun than over 100 pounds of Torpex, PETN, RDX, Dynamite and Kinestik binary high explosives…and a remote detonator?”
All eyes one me grew three sizes that day.
“And I’m prepared to offer the honor of pressing the big, shiny red button to…the highest bidder!”
Consternation and grumbling.
“Actually, I kid. Before this, I had given a slip of paper to Dr. D. On that paper is a number, between 1 and 100. Here are some official guessing paper and pencils. The paper was recently outsourced from the DOI, so no fair trying to use any other. Now, write your guess down, a single number, between 1 and 100, one guess per participant. The closest gets the remote detonator and the honor of destroying the den of filth. In the case of prizes, duplicate ties will be awarded. You have 2 minutes before my number will be revealed. GO!”
Five minutes later, Dr. D announces the winner. There were no duplicates and my number was 86. Dr. I from Berkeley was the winner. She was a petite little hydrogeologist with a mean streak a mile wide. She grinned like a maniac when I handed her the remote detonator. She wanted to go immediately, but I restrained her for a 5 count.
“5...4…3…2…1…HIT IT!”
Whoa. Even though the mine was strictly closed, when that Torpex torpedo went off, the whole state probably felt it. It was very much like an earthquake. A very noisy, even that far underground in a closed-off mine, shatteringly brilliant earthquake.
Dr. I was ecstatic. “I did that?”
“Yes, you did. You’ll be receiving the bill in the mail.” I joshed.
It didn’t matter. Nothing could dampen the mood at that point.
Before lighting the drinking lamp, I recited a bit of doggerel for the crowd to close and commemorate our first victorious mine closing.
 “The Earth shakes, the ground cracks,
 And out steps fmax.
 Pleased as punch, fresh as a daisy,
 He watches while the world goes crazy.
 Strata shakes, structures tumble,
 Seismographs jump, formations crumble.
 When he’s finished, spent with sin,
 He returns as fmin.”
(fmax refers to the high-frequency band-limitation of the radiated field of earthquakes.)
It’s a geology thing…
They seemed to appreciate the effort. They loved that immediately afterward I lit the evening drinking lamp.
Dr. D, Lucas, and my own self had our cigars, drink, and maps. We were looking for our next contestant. Given the reaction of the crowd, I figured they’d be ready for something a little more ‘aggressive’. We had 11 days left, so it couldn’t be too far afield, as I didn’t want to waste time in transit, but here in Nevada, that wasn’t going to present a problem.
Lucas pointed out the Gobbler’s Knob mining area. It was studded with mines marked with the red ‘X’ of the Bureau indicating these mines had been vetted for critter populations and were slated for demolition, and there was quite the assortment. Sure, it was a good three and a half hours distant as a direct shot, or a full day for this crowd. However, we could just camp there for the last part of the trip; it would make a fine base camp. There were more than enough mines, in close proximity, of all types.
So, it was decided and announced. We’d all rendezvous at the titular Gobbler’s Knob gold mine area. I’d scout the area with Lucas and Dr. D, who would follow in his field car. We’d find a place to set up base camp. Sure, it was a diversion from the planned itinerary of the project, but that was at my discretion anyways. Given the shakedown at the Sharp Curve mine, we figure the less over-the-road travel for this crowd, the better.
I chatted with the concessionaires and explained our new plans. They were relieved, as once settled, they wouldn’t have to tear down and set up again every few days. We would be relatively closer to some larger cities, so they could assure us to continue the high quality of food and drink.
So, we were set. Lucas asked to ride with me and since he didn’t mind my cigars, so long as I shared. So Dr. D, in his rental field vehicle, and Lucas and I in the Hummer, hit the trail first. We’d be there in three or so hours. Real geologists don’t get lost out in the field, they just become slightly temporarily dislocated.
Not to waste any time, I had Lucas get on the radio and relate our plans to the Bureau. After this, he called the Nevada State Troopers and let them know what we were up to as well; just in case, as insurance. He called the local police in the town of Goonhaven, NV to warn them that we were on the way. They were most appreciative. They liked geologists and miners. They even gave us the address and phone number of the town’s single liquor store.
We had a radiotelephone lash up through the Bureau HF radio, so I had Lucas call the Boozerama and advise them we’ll need a lot of clear ice for the catering guys. Plus they might just want to go ahead and lay in a double, ok, triple supply of beer as there’s a gaggle of thirsty pseudogeologists on the way that are going to hang around for a week or more.
I asked them if they had any Russian Imperial Export vodka. They said they had some, but a good variety and supply of other brands. I thanked them and warned them again, that the geologists were coming. I also requested that they source some Bitter Lemon and a few cases of assorted Nehi flavors. They said they would try.
Always nice to phone ahead and give ample warning. Elicits discounts.
Lucas was a natural as a navigator.
“OK, Rock. Stay on the goat path until you hit Big Barn rock. Take a left and head up to Copperhead Canyon. Once past the canyon, go right on past Nellie’s Nipple and follow the arroyo. Once you pass Sniggler’s Gulch, hang a right and another right and we’ll be on the road to Gobbler’s Knob.”
I lowered my polychromic safety squints in place and said: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”.
I dropped the Hummer into low, stomped the gas, and leaped out across the desert; the trailer with nearly a ton of high explosives bouncing jauntily behind us.
Lucas started to protest, thought better of it, got us both a cold drink out of the back seat, just sat, white-knuckled it as he watched the desert fly by.
We made great time as we averaged some 60 miles per hour over the flat, rocky desert.
Well, maybe not average, but we did hit 60 mph until Lucas got too alarmed and worried feverishly over the trailer full of boom that was fast on our tails.
We pulled into the ghost town of the main Gobbler’s Knob camp. It was a large, open area up in the mountains. We got out and began our photoreconnaissance.
There was a lot of antique mining equipment and paraphernalia up here. Looks like we were either too high up in the middle of nowhere or perhaps the locals didn’t care enough to brave the route up to the camp area. It was as close to pristine as one could get in the region. It really looked like with a little spit and polish, one could fire up the mines once again.
The Gobbler’s Knob mining district covers an area of approximately 30 square miles in the Grunion Range in Nevada. Gold was discovered in the Gobbler’s Knob district in 1905, although quartz veins in the vicinity of the ‘Knob’ had been worked as early as 1866. The district immediately became one of the bigger "boom camps" of Nevada. The greatest production was reached in 1931, and since that time mining has declined until it was abandoned in the early 1940s. Placer gold, post-1945, from the deep gravels of the adjacent gulches have added to the total output. Total gold revenues from the area topped $550 million dollars.
The geology is extremely complex. The southern part of the district is underlain by closely folded Paleozoic rocks. These formations have been divided into five units, to four of which local names have been given. The oldest of these units, probably of Cambrian age, consists dominantly of siliceous mica-schist but contains beds and lenses of quartzite and dark sandstone and five beds of crystalline limestone. The total thickness exposed is estimated to be about 5,000 feet. Above this, and provisionally assigned to the Ordovician, is about 800 feet of chloritic schist, altered by thermal metamorphism to a "knotted" schist. This unit, in turn, is followed by 800 feet of gray limestone, partly altered to black jasper, which near the top grades into black slates. The lowest fossiliferous stratum is a thin bed of black slate' containing graptolites, which is separated from the underlying limestone by a thin layer of quartzite. The graptolites are of No-Kill-I (Ordovician) age. Above the graptolite bed is limestone similar in character to that below, followed by a great thickness of chloritic schist, with here and there thin beds of cherty slate and crystalline limestone. The total thickness of this group of beds probably exceeds 4,000 feet in the area mapped.
The Gobbler’s Knob mining district has produced an additional $350 million worth of copper, lead, silver, and rare earth elements. Productive rocks include the Pogostik Group, Euyankinme Quartzite, and Awfully Good Formation of Ordovician age, Lonesome Goose Dolomite of Silurian age, the Nowheyinhell Formation and Devil’s Dingus Limestone of Devonian age, and unnamed clastic units of Mississippian age, notably Bob’s Lime, the Coonskin Quartzite, and the Frammish metaconglomerates.
These rocks were folded into an overturned anticline and then broken by high-angle normal and reverse faults. Paleozoic rocks were intruded by a granitic stock having a rhyolite porphyry core and by rhyolite porphyry dikes. Primary pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, and sphalerite and tetrahedrite in host rocks of marble and diopside and garnet skarn have been altered by weathering to oxide, carbonate, sulfate and silicate minerals. Some mineralized rock contains remarkably high concentrations of rare earth elements and beryllium.
We had carte blanche out here. We were the only bipedal mammals, as far as we could see, for hundreds, if not thousands, of square miles. Lucas tried to raise any local folks on the HF, VHF, ULF, and CB radios. Nothing. We were isolated, but we had our traveling funnel-cake trailers bringing up the rear. It was as nice a field area as one could ask.
Lucas and I scouted the area looking for an area to erect Camp Central. I had almost decided in occupying one of the larger old miner’s shacks. That is until Lucas pointed out the local indigenous population of packrats, coyotes, possums, and probably fleas, ticks, mites, no-see-um’s, and snakes.
“Good idea, Lucas”, I replied after reflection, “Let’s find us a new spot to camp out.”
Dr. D can slaloming into the ‘Knob in a flurry of dust and flying alluvium.
“Sorry I’m late, Guys, “he apologized, “But I found an outcrop of jaspalite out in the desert. I just had to stop and take samples.”
He showed us the jaspalized lahar, or quartzified ancient volcanic mudflow, samples. They were a riot of colors. Blood red jasper, green jadeite, yellow topaz, bluish-quartz knots, and purplish purpurite, a purply-purple mineral species.
It was very purple.
Esme would have loved some samples to play with if all her lapidary equipment wasn’t already in storage.
Dr. D got out the Gobbler’s Knob topographic map and stood on the roof of his rental, another reason rental car companies hate geologists, peering through his binoculars.
Lucas and I were exploring around the old campsite when Dr. D called us over.
A short distance away, there was a prominent wavy outcrop of thickly bedded sandstone. It has some nice re-entrants, like little rocky bays in an ancient geological harbor. This was fairly close to the flat highlands of the main camp but would be a prime dwelling for trailers, with some degree of privacy and the off-site storage of nearly a ton of high explosives.
In front of the outcrop, was a flat, wind-swept sandy blowout area that would be prime for the catering trailers.
If we parked the Porta Johns behind the outcrop, they’d still be close enough to be of facility. But they’d be distant enough that we wouldn’t be gassed in our sleep if the winds shifted during the night.
Plenty of parking off-site a piece once the trailers were set. The general area showed no signs of being anything of a hydrological nature, so it didn’t act as a wadi boundary, nor were we camping in a dry wash. We should be protected from the worst of the winds and rain if the inevitable summer high-desert thunderstorm rolled through.
“Boom!”, I said, “Gentlemen, we have a camp! First come, first served. Let’s go claim our spots.”
We all smiled, piled into our respective vehicles and drove the 350 meters or so over a small rise to our new home for the next week plus.
I found a very secure dead-end slot-canyon for the trailer. I backed it in, disconnected it from the Hummer, and secured it to some rock bolts Lucas and I pounded into the very living rock walls of the canyon.
Lucas and I chose the next re-entrant to the left. It was one of the larger ones, plenty of space to park the Hummer and for Lucas and my tents. Dr. D selected the one immediately to the right of Trailer Canyon. His rental fit in parallel to the rock face, and he pitched his tent between the rock wall and his vehicle. He had a flat area to pitch his tent, drag out his work table, and sling his hammock between the car and the outcrop. He’d be protected from the wind and rain, and any onslaught other than directly vertical.
Clever dude.
He even erected a sun-shade he devised from a thick sheet of tarpaulin and some support pipes he scrounged from the surrounding area. We helped him fabricate this bit of brilliance with guy lines attached to rock bolts we pounded into the outcrop and extra tent pegs anchored deep into the desert floor.
Very clever. He was secure as houses now.
We were set and ready to go. All we needed now was the rest of the retinue to arrive.
Lucas went walkabout once we had dragged out my worktable and one of the coolers I carried. I was working away on my field notebooks when Lucas ran up with a 2x2 foot square sheet of what appeared to be weathered white Masonite.
“What you got there, Luc?”, Dr. D asked.
“There’s tons of this shit lying around”, Lucas explained, “All the same size and thickness. I figure we’re going to be here a while, so we gather some posts, and we have a supply of ready-made signs for the crowd when they arrive.”
So, Lucas, Dr. D and I spend the next couple of hours devising road signs for the new arrivals.
“Slot 1 =>. Slot 2 =>.” And so one for the basic trailer parking/tenting slots.
“Food =>”, which needed to wait until the caterers' arrival.
“Shitters =>”, again, had to wait until the Porta-San farm arrived.
And so on and so forth.
All in bright day-glow orange.
Lucas and I did a rattlesnake sweep through the entire camp area and found not even a shed skin. We did find a slot canyon cut clear through the outcrop that would provide great access to the Porta Johns behind the outcrop. It was like this place was designed for us.
The food trailers and Porta Sans arrived at virtually the same time. We directed each to the area we thought would be best for each. The Porta San driver agreed this was a good place for the loos, especially since they’d be out of the elements and still close enough to be a convenience.
The caterers hemmed and hawed a while, but over a cold beer or two, decided the areas we already designated would prove to be acceptable, with a few minor alterations. A little C-4 remade those minor alterations and relocated some errant boulders. Before you knew it, we were back in business.
We figured the day would be a wash as it would take these hydroheads most of the day to find their shoes, much less a distant campsite. So, Lucas and Dr. D went out in his vehicle and posted sings to help direct these hopeless folks to the campsite.
I stayed back at camp and pored over the maps, literature, and write-ups regarding the area and the mines it contained.
There were literally hundreds of mines out there. Some no more than small prospect drifts that chased a vein of precious metals until it petered out in a few hundred yards. Others were full-fledged scary-ass deep, hard rock mines with vertical transit shafts whose depths were measured in thousands of feet.
I discounted those the Bureau hadn’t vetted as to animal worthiness and those that were deemed animal sanctuaries. A quick count left me with 104 mines to choose from. Some I could close “Old School” with a bundle of dynamite and a quick tug on a set-pull-forget and toss fuse.
Others were so extensive, it would take me and a trained crew at least a week to explore, devise, set, prime, and charge the thing.
OK, I selected 10 easy mines for quick annihilation and set those aside as Class-1, the easiest bundle-of-boom, for later. Sort of a bonus as the project drew to a close.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to go all 1880s and pop the fuse on a bundle of stick dynamite then chuck them down a deep hole?
I know I would.
Then I chose five or six what I considered medium-class, or Class-2, mines. Multi-level, dry, no real obvious nasties like rotten cribbing, loose broke down piles of rock, talc…gad, talc… or noxious gasses. These went into pile number two.
Then I chose two that I considered Class-3 mines. Real bastards. Multi-level, flooded, raises, winzes, stopes, shifts, staves, shafts, tunnels, all sorts of fun shit. I decided that Dr. D, Lucas and I would discuss which of these we’d close. It was a point of vanity, I guess. I needed to nuke just one of these tricky fuckers to show the Bureau what they were going to be missing once I left. As well as prove what I can accomplish out in the field, even saddled with a passel of greenhorns.
With my field notebooks up to date, all my demolition paperwork in order, and piles of mine candidates to choose from, I declared the day a wash and lit the drinking light.
Dr. D looked at our supplies and declared it inadequate. Besides, we didn’t have any Bass Ale, his favorite tipple. He decides that he and Lucas would run into town, only about 75 miles distant, pick up the necessary supplies, and bet me a sawbuck he’d return before the first camper made camp-fall.
“You’re on!”, I said as I handed Lucas the cash for the wager. I also slipped him a few extra bucks if he found any good looking cigars, vodka, bourbon or beer we just couldn’t live without.
The concessions folks got wind of our plans and asked if one of their tribe could accompany Dr. D and Lucas to town with a couple of coolers for ice. They could make ice on-site, but it’d be hours before they had any in abundance. Dr. D had no problem with that as they could bungee the coolers down to the roof rack of the rental.
I asked Dr. D if this extra time to get ice would invalidate our wager.
In a flurry of dust and cigar smoke, he yelled out the window as he, Lucas and the food court guy hauled ass town ward: “No way! I’ll still beat them all back!”
I was essentially alone out in the wilds of Nevada’s high desert. Nothing much to do, I loafed around, wandered over to the boomtown remains and had a look round, and generally just mooched about waiting.
Back at Rock Central, as Dr. D had christened our campsite; as he had created, posted, and signed the signs to prove it, I was called over to one of the cook trailers. They had questions for me.
They wanted to know what the gunfire was all about the other day. They’d heard rumors of everything from armed insurgency to just some late-night target practice.
I regaled them of the story of the ‘Motorcycle Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight’ and they laughed and laughed. They were pleased to know they were well protected out here in the boonies.
After that, with nothing much else to do, I offered them all a beer or whatever else they could find in my depleted larders. They gratefully accepted and we sat around, just shootin’ the shit for a while.
Two or three beers in, one of the head chefs excused himself and returned a bit later with an unlabeled bottle of suspicious-looking clearish fluid.
“We keep some on hand for emergencies”, he told me, “But since they were working for the Bureau and had to conform to their rules, we were asked to run a dry camp.”
“Well,” I said, “As long as it’s kept under control, and as I’m the sole Bureau representative here; I don’t run a dry camp, so if it’s kept low-key, I don’t see a damned thing.”
After the whoops and hollers died down, I was presented an iced glass of very suspicious-looking homemade high-octane hooch. The head chef, who assured me he has CIA credentials, i.e., Culinary Institute of America, and knew how to run a still, promised me I’d find his latest creation most enjoyable. Or unusual, I forget which.
“Slurp!”
Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ on A Soda Cracker! That stuff was smooth.
No, not smooth. What’s the opposite of smooth? Sandpapery? Abrasive? Crenulate? Squamulose? Rock ripping?
He smiled broadly as I choked down that slug. I gasped for breath. My eyes glazed over. My ears were on fire. My teeth vibrated. My nose ran off. My tongue was contemplating filing for divorce.
It was pure loathsomeness. It was fucking horrendous. I hated the fucking stuff.
“Care for another?” he asked.
“Oh yes, please,” I replied.
A while later I heard a car approaching. Given the speed at which it was traveling, I knew without looking who it was.
Yep, five minutes later Dr. D roared into camp, sliding backward to a stop only feet from the lead chow trailer in a cloud of Cretaceous floodplain dust.
“Did I win?” he asked, as he looked the camp over. Lucas and the cook assistant fumbled out of the car as best their rubbery legs would allow.
“Sure as hell.” I replied, “Lucas, please pay the man.”
We helped remove the coolers of the roof of Dr. D’s car. Each was filled with a single crystal-clear block of water ice. Seems this old town still had an ice house and it was simple as squash to take dimensions of the cooler, and chip a chunk of the correct size off the glacier they had in the storerooms. The cook crew were ecstatic.
Dr. D found his Bass Ale and bought the town dry. Lucas had purchased a supply of classic field camp beers: Lucky Lager, Henry Weinhard's, Hamms, Blatz, Falstaff, Walter’s Bock, Grain Belt, and Buckhorn. It was frosty, ice-cold nostalgia.
Plus, Lucas found a bottle of George Dickel, Rebel Yell, and Hoggs Bourbon for me. As well as liters of Monopolowa, Popov, Bowmans’s, Royal Gate, and Ruskaya Vodka. He also admitted to a bottle of Yukon Jack and Captain Morgan for himself since everyone else was getting what they wanted. Plus three cases of really weird flavored Nehi soda. No Bitter Lemon though…he was disconsolate. But still smiling like a loon.
Dr. D had also stopped and filled his trunk with firewood purchased from a farmer on the outskirts of town. We stacked that centrally next to where we’d construct the communal fire pit.
The high desert. Out in the middle of absolute nowhere. Camping. Few creature comforts. A serious geology job laid out in front of us, a couple already behind us. Campfires. Good friends. Good food. Good cigars. Cheap booze.
It really was like coming home again.
Finally, some hours later, just as the sun was getting ready to bounce off the western edge of the desert, the trailers and campers began to arrive. They all caravanned, en masse so they wouldn’t get lost. Their tarmacked travels took them through many tank towns, so they stopped along the way for beer, booze, and other things to make the camp run that much more smoothly.
One after another, the tenters and campers pulled in. Dr. D, Lucas and I decided we had done enough for one day, so we sat at Lucas’ and my campsite, stoked a smallish campfire and decided to sample the wares of Dr. D’s sojourn to the big city.
The trailers all parked, first come, first served. No arguments, no bitching, no sweat. The tenters consolidated the northern end of the camp area, the trailers, the south.
The chow triangle was rung and it was dinner time, all right on schedule.
Deep-fried cod and chips, mushy peas, Toad in the Hole, Yorkshire Pudding, and roast joints of beef rounded out the British-themed meal. There was Spotted Dick, Banoffee pie, and Syllabub for pudding.
You had to eat your meat or you couldn’t have any pudding.
Maybe the chef really was CIA.
After tea, and before the drinking light was lit, I called everyone for a quick meeting to explain what I had intended for the next 10 days. I explained how Class -1, -2, and -3 mines were defined. I noted that we would, at minimum, close at least one of each type in our time remaining. Everyone would be in on Class 1 & 2 mines, but I’d only ask for volunteers for the single Class-3 mine, due to its inherent complexity and danger.
I also noted that since this would be home for the next near score of days, that I have access to VHF, HF, UHF, ELF, SW, and CB radios, with a lash up for telecommunications with the Bureau HF radio, if there was an emergency. I also have a satellite phone if there were any particularly spectacular emergencies. It was available, but not for idle chit chat. Perhaps, later in the week, I noted, I could allow a 10-minute call home for everyone if there was nothing untoward that happened in the interim.
There were general shouts of approval on all points. I asked for questions, and there were none. Either I was that good at covering all the bases of these guys were really thirsty.
“Folks”, I said, “The drinking light is lit. Remember, we muster front and center tomorrow 0630. Please bear that in mind. Naz dirovya!
After a catered breakfast of breakfast pizza, breakfast burritos, and breakfast Egg WacMuffins, I had the whole crowd assembled, most all sipping coffee and a few lamenting some real humdinger headaches.
“OK, gang”, I began, “Class-2 mines today. Class-1 mines are super easy, barely an inconvenience. I’m retaining them as door prizes for the best mine demolishers nearer the end of the week. I won’t say much about these exit prizes, but suffice to say, think 1880s, and bundled sticks of dynamite.”
That got the crowd’s interest.
As usual, I broke the crowd up into groups. Dr. D, being near as up as me on mine construction and dangers, so kindly offered to take one group in the morning so I could handle the second group in the afternoon, or vice versa, just for flavor. After that, we’d compare notes, ask for volunteers, go back in and charge the mines. Then, we’d retire to a safe distance and blow the living shit out of them.
We’d alternate, and when I wasn’t in the mine, he’d radio back what he thought would be appropriate to nuke these mines out of existence. I’d begin work on building the demolition charges. After which, I’d store them, then I’d take a group on a walkthrough. We’d all get together, have a powwow, get people’s impressions and concerns of the mine and formulate a demolition procedure.
That way, in six days we blasted out of existence six Class-2 mines. We were humming along like a well-oiled machine. No bitching, no kvetching, just lots and lots of questions, good food, cheap booze, and cheaper beer with mines closing left and right.
Things were actually humming right along. Until the afternoon of day 8.
Clouds rolled in, covering the skies with their frothy white, billowy cloudiness.
I was looking up to the unfolding aerial montage when Lucas and Dr. D wandered over.
“You saw it as well.”, Dr. D noted., “Best get the word out, it’s going to be a real toad-floater.” He and Lucas were old-time field hands out in the desert. They knew what was coming.
I agreed, this had all the earmarks of a major-league desert thunderstorm. Heavy rain, wicked winds, thundering thunder, dismal darkness, all split by jagged lightning.
I called for an immediate camp meeting.
“Folks,” I said loudly, so the cook crew could hear as well, “Look due up. We’re in for a real humdinger of a summer thunderstorm. As soon as we’re finished here, get back to your camp. Secure everything not nailed down. Check guy ropes and make sure they’re doubled-down. If it’s loose, pack it, or nail it down tight. I don’t know how many of you have experienced Mother Nature at her nastiest out in the field, but make no mistake, she’s got stuff that makes my best explosives look like Tinker Toys. Get sorted and hunker down. There will be wind. There will be rain. There will be wind. They may be hail, so tenters, you might want to call in some favors with the folks who have trailers. Questions?”
There were none, but Dr. D added, “Rock ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie here, gang. It’s got all the earmarks of being a nasty bugger. Prepare to take cover and hunker down solid.”
They saw that when the two most senior field trippers said that this was to be a real event, it’s best to listen and ask questions later.
The camp scattered. Lucas and I flattened our tents, no need getting them ripped to shreds.
I made certain the explosives trailer was nailed down, locked, and well-grounded. What are the odds of a lightning strike? Don’t care. I made double-damn uber-certain.
Dr. D flattened his camp and said he’d ride it out in his rental. I offered him a spot in the Hummer, as it was big enough for us to sack out if the storm lingered.
He declined. He said he’d be fine in his rental.
The cook trailers were stowed and secured, and if the Port-a-San farm took a hit, there wasn’t much now we could do but hope otherwise.
Lucas, Dr. D and I sat out in out camp chairs, with fresh cigars and beers, savoring the ridiculously salubrious pre-storm ozonic fresh air, awaiting the inevitable atmospheric show. The clouds above roiled, rolled, and built to astonishing heights. They grew as dark and foreboding as a volcanic ashfall. Over more beer and cigars, and maybe a tot of bourbon, we watched and waited.
And waited.
“Was this going to be a false alarm?” I wondered.
KA-HOLY SHIT-BOOM! The thunder roared.
Nope. Not this time.
We all sat outside admiring the coming show. It was going to be fun, lots of lightning and peals of thunder. Torrential rains, for certain, with that exciting hint of hail that might come for a visit.
Over beers, we sat, watched, and pointed out some of the amazing structures in a building series of cranky cumulonimbus clouds.
“PLOP!” the first drops of rain appeared. The camp chairs went into the back of the Hummer. Dr. D departed to his sanctuary and Lucas and I sat in the truck, fiddling with the radios to see if we could get any info on the storm.
KRRAACK! Lightning buzzed with a vengeance.
We’re in the high desert out here. Some 9,000’ plus above sea level. Puts us that much closer to the storm.
KABOOM! Thunder rumbled.
“Odd”, I thought, “Not much rain or wind…”
The Hummer rocked like it took a hit from an RPG. The rain and wind I wondered about had arrived.
If you had anything not locked down outside, it was well on its way to California by now.
Rain pummeled. Winds howled. Lightning cracked. Thunder rumbled.
And it got very, very dark.
Dr. D did a great job of picking out our camp location. The rain puddled, ponded, then ran off to the west. The winds, for at least a small part, were funneled around the campsite rather than lay waste to it.
But that’s where all the good things ended.
The hail began. Pea-sized first. Then marble-sized. Then organic, free-range, farm-fresh, egg-sized. Finally, high-velocity ice golf balls. It made a hell of a racket on the reinforced roof of the Hummer. I didn’t even want to think what it was doing to thin-sheet aluminum topped trailers.
It grew in intensity. Winds whipped even stronger. Hail bounced merrily of the outcrops, cook trailer’s roofs and the very ground. In short order, it looked as if it had snowed. The entire campsite’s grounds were covered with whole inches of accumulation of hailstones.
Then, as quickly as it appeared, it was over. The sun cautiously peeked through the waning clouds and lit the devastated tableaux for all to see.
Lucas, Dr. D and I got out of our vehicles to survey the circumstances. We brushed the icy accumulations off our tents and raised them so they’d begin drying. There would have been nothing left if we hadn’t collapsed them first.
Slowly, the rest of the campers showed up. They milled around the snow-like accumulation and just goggled. Many had never seen, much less experienced, such climatic fury firsthand.
Of course, everyone had to pick up and examine the hailstones. Then it happened, one northern wag decided that since it looked like snow, it must act like snow. One West Coaster was the first casualty. He took a hailstone snowball to the back.
That’s all it took, a snowball fight broke out. It was hilarious, even though I was less than amused when I played innocent bystander and took a snowball hit directly to the cocktail in my hand, spilling my drink.
“Of course you realize.”, I mused, “This means war.”
Many campers learned that day, through hard experience, you never start a snowball fight with Baja Canada and Real Canada residents. The carnage was spectacular.
It was a late night before anyone hit the sack. They were having too much fun.
I finally picked the last mine of the tour, the Gobbler’s Knob #33 shaft.
I gave it several days because it was a motherfucker.
Fully 7 levels deep. A central shaft that was 33’ across the diagonal, hence the mine’s name.
The deepest record we had for the mine was the last work face in level 7 was at 2,729 feet below surface level, more than a half a mile in depth.
The last reports were that level 7 might have flooded. Looks like I’m going to need some severely hardy folks to accompany me on this initial trek.
After dinner that night, I called a camp meeting. I explained the need for the initial reconnaissance of this mine, and I was looking for volunteers. This was an entirely optional mine, although I’d like input at the nightly meetings. You don’t have to go, but it’d probably look real good on those final reports I have to write up for everyone.
Yeah, no pressure. No pressure at all.
Of course, Dr. D and Lucas volunteered immediately. Truth be told, if that’s all that wanted to go, it would have been fine with me.
However, Dr. I, the Ms. maniac torpedo detonator from earlier, Dr. F, and Dr. H and his associate made the move forward.
“OK,” I declared, “That’s seven. Just in case, do any of you have technical rope-climbing skills? That might come in handy on this recon trip.”
Dr. H decided that it might be a bit too strenuous for him, but asked if his associate, Gary the Grad Student could accompany us. This guy was supposedly half-gibbon, he was that good of a technical climber. I almost told him to get bent as I didn’t need anyone showing me up.
Of course, I relented. I noted that we’d all meet here, tomorrow, fully kitted out with all our gear, at 0600 for the initial assault. We’d take the Hummer as it had plenty of room. The mine adit itself was less than a mile distant, but we’d get so knackered walking that distance even in the early morning desert heat, that I insisted we drive, even if it took a couple of trips.
There was a pretty good Happy Hour that night, but not for six of the more intrepid adventurers. We held off until after our explorations were complete.
I had copies of the latest mine schematics and handed one out to everyone.
“Carry this with you and mark it as you go”, I said, “Find something not on the map, like an ore chute, drift, stope, raise, or winze, make a note. Also, keep tabs on where you are at all times.”
All agreed as this was serious nut cuttin’ time. This mine could be a real killer. I doubt it’s going to cut any of us any slack.
After checking and re-checking our gear, at the mine adit, we synchronized our watches and rechecked our coordinates. Our ELF radios would work underground as would the mine GPS we had along.
To be continued.
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

dcrd Version 1.5.0 Release Candidate 1

Release Candidates are public previews of software that are functional and nearing release, but still require testing to catch any potential issues. If you are an adventurous individual who is willing to help test and report any issues, please do so. However, be aware that running pre-release software may require a downgrade and/or redownload of the chain in extreme cases

CLI Binaries: https://github.com/decred/decred-binaries/releases/tag/v1.5.0-rc1

dcrd v1.5.0-rc1

This release of dcrd introduces a large number of updates. Some of the key highlights are:
For those unfamiliar with the voting process in Decred, all code in order to support block header commitments is already included in this release, however its enforcement will remain dormant until the stakeholders vote to activate it.
For reference, block header commitments were originally proposed and approved for initial implementation via the following Politeia proposal:
The following Decred Change Proposal (DCP) describes the proposed changes in detail and provides a full technical specification:

Downgrade Warning

The database format in v1.5.0 is not compatible with previous versions of the software. This only affects downgrades as users upgrading from previous versions will see a one time database migration.
Once this migration has been completed, it will no longer be possible to downgrade to a previous version of the software without having to delete the database and redownload the chain.

Notable Changes

Block Header Commitments Vote

A new vote with the id headercommitments is now available as of this release. After upgrading, stakeholders may set their preferences through their wallet or Voting Service Provider's (VSP) website.
The primary goal of this change is to increase the security and efficiency of lightweight clients, such as Decrediton in its lightweight mode and the dcrandroid/dcrios mobile wallets, as well as add infrastructure that paves the way for several future scalability enhancements.
A high level overview aimed at a general audience including a cost benefit analysis can be found in the Politeia proposal.
In addition, a much more in-depth treatment can be found in the motivation section of DCP0005.

Version 2 Block Filters

The block filters used by lightweight clients, such as SPV (Simplified Payment Verification) wallets, have been updated to improve their efficiency, ergonomics, and include additional information such as the full ticket commitment script. The new block filters are version 2. The older version 1 filters are now deprecated and scheduled to be removed in the next release, so consumers should update to the new filters as soon as possible.
An overview of block filters can be found in the block filters section of DCP0005.
Also, the specific contents and technical specification of the new version 2 block filters is available in the version 2 block filters section of DCP0005.
Finally, there is a one time database update to build and store the new filters for all existing historical blocks which will likely take a while to complete (typically around 8 to 10 minutes on HDDs and 4 to 5 minutes on SSDs).

Mining Infrastructure Overhaul

The mining infrastructure for building block templates and delivering the work to miners has been significantly overhauled to improve several aspects as follows:
The standard getwork RPC that PoW miners currently use to perform the mining process has been updated to make use of this new infrastructure, so existing PoW miners will seamlessly get the vast majority of benefits without requiring any updates.
However, in addition, a new notifywork RPC is now available that allows miners to register for work to be delivered asynchronously as it becomes available via a WebSockets work notification. These notifications include the same information that getwork provides along with an additional reason parameter which allows the miners to make better decisions about when they should instruct workers to discard the current template immediately or should be allowed to finish their current round before being provided with the new template.
Miners are highly encouraged to update their software to make use of the new asynchronous notification infrastructure since it is more robust, efficient, and faster than polling getwork to manually determine the aforementioned conditions.
The following is a non-exhaustive overview that highlights the major benefits of the changes for both cases:
PoW miners who choose to update their software, pool or otherwise, to make use of the asynchronous work notifications will receive additional benefits such as:
NOTE: Miners that are not rolling the timestamp field as they mine should ensure their software is upgraded to roll the timestamp to the latest timestamp each time they hand work out to a miner. This helps ensure the block timestamps are as accurate as possible.

Transaction Script Validation Optimizations

Transaction script validation has been almost completely rewritten to significantly improve its speed and reduce the number of memory allocations. While this has many more benefits than enumerated here, probably the most important ones for most stakeholders are:

Automatic External IP Address Discovery

In order for nodes to fully participate in the peer-to-peer network, they must be publicly accessible and made discoverable by advertising their external IP address. This is typically made slightly more complicated since most users run their nodes on networks behind Network Address Translation (NAT).
Previously, in addition to configuring the network firewall and/or router to allow inbound connections to port 9108 and forwarding the port to the internal IP address running dcrd, it was also required to manually set the public external IP address via the --externalip CLI option.
This release will now make use of other nodes on the network in a decentralized fashion to automatically discover the external IP address, so it is no longer necessary to manually set CLI option for the vast majority of users.

Tor IPv6 Support

It is now possible to resolve and connect to IPv6 peers over Tor in addition to the existing IPv4 support.

RPC Server Changes

New Version 2 Block Filter Query RPC (getcfilterv2)

A new RPC named getcfilterv2 is now available which can be used to retrieve the version 2 block filter for a given block along with its associated inclusion proof. See the getcfilterv2 JSON-RPC API Documentation for API details.

New Network Information Query RPC (getnetworkinfo)

A new RPC named getnetworkinfo is now available which can be used to query information related to the peer-to-peer network such as the protocol version, the local time offset, the number of current connections, the supported network protocols, the current transaction relay fee, and the external IP addresses for the local interfaces. See the getnetworkinfo JSON-RPC API Documentation for API details.

Updates to Chain State Query RPC (getblockchaininfo)

The difficulty field of the getblockchaininfo RPC is now deprecated in favor of a new field named difficultyratio which matches the result returned by the getdifficulty RPC.
See the getblockchaininfo JSON-RPC API Documentation for API details.

New Optional Version Parameter on Script Decode RPC (decodescript)

The decodescript RPC now accepts an additional optional parameter to specify the script version. The only currently supported script version in Decred is version 0 which means decoding scripts with versions other than 0 will be seen as non standard.

Removal of Deprecated Block Template RPC (getblocktemplate)

The previously deprecated getblocktemplate RPC is no longer available. All known miners are already using the preferred getwork RPC since Decred's block header supports more than enough nonce space to keep mining hardware busy without needing to resort to building custom templates with less efficient extra nonce coinbase workarounds.

Additional RPCs Available To Limited Access Users

The following RPCs that were previously unavailable to the limited access RPC user are now available to it:

Single Mining State Request

The peer-to-peer protocol message to request the current mining state (getminings) is used when peers first connect to retrieve all known votes for the current tip block. This is only useful when the peer first connects because all future votes will be relayed once the connection has been established. Consequently, nodes will now only respond to a single mining state request. Subsequent requests are ignored.

Developer Go Modules

A full suite of versioned Go modules (essentially code libraries) are now available for use by applications written in Go that wish to create robust software with reproducible, verifiable, and verified builds.
These modules are used to build dcrd itself and are therefore well maintained, tested, documented, and relatively efficient.

Changelog

This release consists of 600 commits from 17 contributors which total to 537 files changed, 41494 additional lines of code, and 29215 deleted lines of code.
All commits since the last release may be viewed on GitHub here.

Protocol and network:

Transaction relay (memory pool):

Mining:

RPC:

dcrd command-line flags and configuration:

certgen utility changes:

dcrctl utility changes:

promptsecret utility changes:

Documentation:

Developer-related package and module changes:

...continued in a separate post since it exceeds per-post limits.
submitted by davecgh to decred [link] [comments]

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