Binary Call Option Explained - The Options Guide

STM32G4 Dual Bank Bootloader/Firmware Updater Example that actually works (Cube Example does NOT, ST is working on the fix) [read this if you want to make a firmware updater for STM32G4]

Hi,
I spent quite a bit of time figuring this one out. If somebody is trying to make a dual bank firmware updater on the stm32g4, I recommend you read this.
The stm32g4 has 2 banks of flash, one mapped at 0x08000000 and one at 0x08040000. These banks can be swapped. The BFB2 option bit selects if boot should be from bank 1 or bank 2. It is possible to write to the 'other' bank from 'this' bank (this is called "RWW", read-while-write). In normal stm32 flash, one should not write to the flash one is running from because that stalls the bus. So the idea for my firmware update was: clear the other bank, write a program there, swap the banks, reset. It turned out quite difficult, but now it works.
The first issue is that the supplied example for bank swapping from ST's site (FLASH_DualBoot) does not work. The linker file generated is actually correct, but to my understanding the system boot loader on the chip ROM rejects programs generated with it based on the first few bytes of the binary (main stack pointer address). So the linker file must be edited.
The second issue is that one must take the bank swap into account when erasing, but not when calculating an address for writing.
You can find a working implementation here:
https://github.com/barafael/g4-dual-bank-example
See the readme for some more details.
submitted by rafaelement to embedded [link] [comments]

I think I've figured out how Rask and Rusk are going to work in Kerbal Space Program 2

[WALL OF TEXT INBOUND]
Bit of a primer here. Kerbal Space program calculates your ship's trajectory in a vacuum using what is known as patched conics. Each planet or moon has a "sphere of influence" (or SOI) within which it is the only thing in the universe affecting your ship, gravitationally speaking. The game uses Newton's law of gravitation, Gm1m2r-2, to plot out a line your ship will follow when unpowered.
When you coast from one SOI to another the game records your velocity, direction, and location as you are leaving the old SOI and patches it into the new one- where the new body is now able to exert a pull on the ship rather than the old one. This is in order to save on computation, and to avoid annoying things like station-keeping lest player's precious space station around Laythe come crashing down into the ocean due to orbital pertubations from Tylo pulling on it. Not to mention that the stock system must exist on rails lest moons start flying everywhere were you to really do the math for everything pulling on everything else.
What's new in KSP 2? Well, since the patched conics approximation works better when bodies are similar to distant points from each other it's probably going to remain for the Kerbol system as well as in other systems. As to relative stellar motion I can't say- that may also be on rails. What we do know however, is that there's going to be a binary planetoid pair called Rask and Rusk, so close to each other their interacting tidal forces have melted portions of their surface. Since patched conics relies on only one body pulling on your craft at a time, how will the problem of orbital motion around these bodies be addressed?
I believe the answer will be through something called the restricted 3-body problem. This system of analysis involves two massive bodies orbiting a center of mass or barycenter, and a third body whose mass is so small relative to the first two that the force it exerts on them can be completely neglected. These two bodies can of course be on rails. As a result, computation needs for solving the trajectory of the small mass (the ship) is greatly reduced and I predict that this is how flying within Rask and Rusk's SOI will work.
So what are the implications for gameplay? Well for starters, orbits are almost guaranteed to look nothing like a standard KSP 1 trajectory (whose basic shape is some combination of circles, ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas either alone or patched together). Instead, expect orbits to form chaotic and open continuous spirals ending at some prediction limit like those found in Children of a Dead Earth. This trajectory will likely be presented to the player from an inertial reference frame which is centered on the barycenter of Rask and Rusk, and rotates along with the two planetoids. Normally in KSP the reference frame does not rotate with respect to a target body, but in the case of this binary system it likely will have to because the risk of accidental lithobraking is greatly increased. When a blue line intersects one of the two planetoids the player should immediately know that a collision will eventually result. So now you may be asking yourelf, how the hell is a long term orbit possible if I'm going to zigzag around and in between these lobes? Eventually I'll get ejected or crash.
That's where Lagrange Points come in. Exclusively the domain of approximations more accurate than patched conics, Lagrange points are areas in a two body system where a small object can reside in theory indefinitely if no other forces exert on it. These points rotate with the two bodies and any craft placed in them would appear stationary relative to the two bodies. Thus, by introducing the restricted three-body problem it is possible for these areas to exist. In practice there is drift in these areas, but it is likely that there will be some automatic option to station keep while using one unit of monopropellant a year or something.
Edit: added bonus, here's a video I found which has this exact type of simulation. Although they have different masses, the pink and purple points in this simulation are analogous to Rask and Rusk while the yellow point represents a spacecraft.
TL;DR restricted three-body for inside Rask and Rusk's SOI and patched conics everywhere else.
submitted by second_to_fun to KerbalSpaceProgram [link] [comments]

Step-by-Step Guide for Adding a Stack, Expanding Control Lines, and Building an Assembler

After the positive response to my first tutorial on expanding the RAM, I thought I'd continue the fun by expanding the capabilities of Ben's 8-bit CPU even further. That said, you'll need to have done the work in the previous post to be able to do this. You can get a sense for what we'll do in this Imgur gallery.
In this tutorial, we'll balance software and hardware improvements to make this a pretty capable machine:

Parts List

To only update the hardware, you'll need:
If you want to update the toolchain, you'll need:
  1. Arduino Mega 2560 (Amazon) to create the programmer.
  2. Ribbon Jumper Cables (Amazon) to connect the Arduino to the breadboard.
  3. TL866 II Plus EEPROM Programmer (Amazon) to program the ROM.
Bonus Clock Improvement: One additional thing I did is replace the 74LS04 inverter in Ben's clock circuit with a 74LS14 inverting Schmitt trigger (datasheet, Jameco). The pinouts are identical! Just drop it in, wire the existing lines, and then run the clock output through it twice (since it's inverting) to get a squeaky clean clock signal. Useful if you want to go even faster with the CPU.

Step 1: Program with an Arduino and Assembler (Image 1, Image 2)

There's a certain delight in the physical programming of a computer with switches. This is how Bill Gates and Paul Allen famously programmed the Altair 8800 and started Microsoft. But at some point, the hardware becomes limited by how effectively you can input the software. After upgrading the RAM, I quickly felt constrained by how long it took to program everything.
You can continue to program the computer physically if you want and even after upgrading that option is still available, so this step is optional. There's probably many ways to approach the programming, but this way felt simple and in the spirit of the build. We'll use an Arduino Mega 2560, like the one in Ben's 6502 build, to program the RAM. We'll start with a homemade assembler then switch to something more robust.
Preparing the Physical Interface
The first thing to do is prepare the CPU to be programmed by the Arduino. We already did the hard work on this in the RAM upgrade tutorial by using the bus to write to the RAM and disconnecting the control ROM while in program mode. Now we just need to route the appropriate lines to a convenient spot on the board to plug the Arduino into.
  1. This is optional, but I rewired all the DIP switches to have ground on one side, rather than alternating sides like Ben's build. This just makes it easier to route wires.
  2. Wire the 8 address lines from the DIP switch, connecting the side opposite to ground (the one going to the chips) to a convenient point on the board. I put them on the far left, next to the address LEDs and above the write button circuit.
  3. Wire the 8 data lines from the DIP switch, connecting the side opposite to ground (the one going to the chips) directly below the address lines. Make sure they're separated by the gutter so they're not connected.
  4. Wire a line from the write button to your input area. You want to connect the side of the button that's not connected to ground (the one going to the chip).
So now you have one convenient spot with 8 address lines, 8 data lines, and a write line. If you want to get fancy, you can wire them into some kind of connector, but I found that ribbon jumper cables work nicely and keep things tidy.
The way we'll program the RAM is to enter program mode and set all the DIP switches to the high position (e.g., 11111111). Since the switches are upside-down, this means they'll all be disconnected and not driving to ground. The address and write lines will simply be floating and the data lines will be weakly pulled up by 1k resistors. Either way, the Arduino can now drive the signals going into the chips using its outputs.
Creating the Arduino Programmer
Now that we can interface with an Arduino, we need to write some software. If you follow Ben's 6502 video, you'll have all the knowledge you need to get this working. If you want some hints and code, see below (source code):
  1. Create arrays for your data and address lines. For example: const char ADDRESS_LINES[] = {39, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53};. Create your write line with #define RAM_WRITE 3.
  2. Create functions to enable and disable your address and data lines. You want to enable them before writing. Make sure to disable them afterward so that you can still manually program using DIP switches without disconnecting the Arduino. The code looks like this (just change INPUT to OUTPUT accordingly): for(int n = 0; n < 8; n += 1) { pinMode(ADDRESS_LINES[n], OUTPUT); }
  3. Create a function to write to an address. It'll look like void writeData(byte writeAddress, byte writeData) and basically use two loops, one for address and one for data, followed by toggling the write.
  4. Create a char array that contains your program and data. You can use #define to create opcodes like #define LDA 0x01.
  5. In your main function, loop through the program array and send it through writeData.
With this setup, you can now load multi-line programs in a fraction of a second! This can really come in handy with debugging by stress testing your CPU with software. Make sure to test your setup with existing programs you know run reliably. Now that you have your basic setup working, you can add 8 additional lines to read the bus and expand the program to let you read memory locations or even monitor the running of your CPU.
Making an Assembler
The above will serve us well but it's missing a key feature: labels. Labels are invaluable in assembly because they're so versatile. Jumps, subroutines, variables all use labels. The problem is that labels require parsing. Parsing is a fun project on the road to a compiler but not something I wanted to delve into right now--if you're interested, you can learn about Flex and Bison. Instead, I found a custom assembler that lets you define your CPU's instruction set and it'll do everything else for you. Let's get it setup:
  1. If you're on Windows, you can use the pre-built binaries. Otherwise, you'll need to install Rust and compile via cargo build.
  2. Create a file called 8bit.cpu and define your CPU instructions (source code). For example, LDA would be lda {address} -> 0x01 @ address[7:0]. What's cool is you can also now create the instruction's immediate variant instead of having to call it LDI: lda #{value} -> 0x05 @ value[7:0].
  3. You can now write assembly by adding #include "8bit.cpu" to the top of your code. There's a lot of neat features so make sure to read the documentation!
  4. Once you've written some assembly, you can generate the machine code using ./customasm yourprogram.s -f hexc -p. This prints out a char array just like our Arduino program used!
  5. Copy the char array into your Arduino program and send it to your CPU.
At this stage, you can start creating some pretty complex programs with ease. I would definitely play around with writing some larger programs. I actually found a bug in my hardware that was hidden for a while because my programs were never very complex!

Step 2: Expand the Control Lines (Image)

Before we can expand the CPU any further, we have to address the fact we're running out of control lines. An easy way to do this is to add a 3rd 28C16 ROM and be on your way. If you want something a little more involved but satisfying, read on.
Right now the control lines are one hot encoded. This means that if you have 4 lines, you can encode 4 states. But we know that a 4-bit binary number can encode 16 states. We'll use this principle via 74LS138 decoders, just like Ben used for the step counter.
Choosing the Control Line Combinations
Everything comes with trade-offs. In the case of combining control lines, it means the two control lines we choose to combine can never be activated at the same time. We can ensure this by encoding all the inputs together in the first 74LS138 and all the outputs together in a second 74LS138. We'll keep the remaining control lines directly connected.
Rewiring the Control Lines
If your build is anything like mine, the control lines are a bit of a mess. You'll need to be careful when rewiring to ensure it all comes back together correctly. Let's get to it:
  1. Place the two 74LS138 decoders on the far right side of the breadboard with the ROMs. Connect them to power and ground.
  2. You'll likely run out of inverters, so place a 74LS04 on the breadboard above your decoders. Connect it to power and ground.
  3. Carefully take your inputs (MI, RI, II, AI, BI, J) and wire them to the outputs of the left 74LS138. Do not wire anything to O0 because that's activated by 000 which won't work for us!
  4. Carefully take your outputs (RO, CO, AO, EO) and wire them to the outputs of the right 74LS138. Remember, do not wire anything to O0!
  5. Now, the 74LS138 outputs are active low, but the ROM outputs were active high. This means you need to swap the wiring on all your existing 74LS04 inverters for the LEDs and control lines to work. Make sure you track which control lines are supposed to be active high vs. active low!
  6. Wire E3 to power and E2 to ground. Connect the E1 on both 138s together, then connect it to the same line as OE on your ROMs. This will ensure that the outputs are disabled when you're in program mode. You can actually take off the 1k pull-up resistors from the previous tutorial at this stage, because the 138s actively drive the lines going to the 74LS04 inverters rather than floating like the ROMs.
At this point, you really need to ensure that the massive rewiring job was successful. Connect 3 jumper wires to A0-A2 and test all the combinations manually. Make sure the correct LED lights up and check with a multimeteoscilloscope that you're getting the right signal at each chip. Catching mistakes at this point will save you a lot of headaches! Now that everything is working, let's finish up:
  1. Connect A0-A2 of the left 74LS138 to the left ROM's A0-A2.
  2. Connect A0-A2 of the right 74LS138 to the right ROM's A0-A2.
  3. Distribute the rest of the control signals across the two ROMs.
Changing the ROM Code
This part is easy. We just need to update all of our #define with the new addresses and program the ROMs again. For clarity that we're not using one-hot encoding anymore, I recommend using hex instead of binary. So instead of #define MI 0b0000000100000000, we can use #define MI 0x0100, #define RI 0x0200, and so on.
Testing
Expanding the control lines required physically rewiring a lot of critical stuff, so small mistakes can creep up and make mysterious errors down the road. Write a program that activates each control line at least once and make sure it works properly! With your assembler and Arduino programmer, this should be trivial.
Bonus: Adding B Register Output
With the additional control lines, don't forget you can now add a BO signal easily which lets you fully use the B register.

Step 3: Add a Stack (Image 1, Image 2)

Adding a stack significantly expands the capability of the CPU. It enables subroutines, recursion, and handling interrupts (with some additional logic). We'll create our stack with an 8-bit stack pointer hard-coded from $0100 to $01FF, just like the 6502.
Wiring up the Stack Pointer
A stack pointer is conceptually similar to a program counter. It stores an address, you can read it and write to it, and it increments. The only difference between a stack pointer and a program counter is that the stack pointer must also decrement. To create our stack pointer, we'll use two 74LS193 4-bit up/down binary counters:
  1. Place a 74LS00 NAND gate, 74LS245 transceiver, and two 74LS193 counters in a row next to your output register. Wire up power and ground.
  2. Wire the the Carry output of the right 193 to the Count Up input of the left 193. Do the same for the Borrow output and Count Down input.
  3. Connect the Clear input between the two 193s and with an active high reset line. The B register has one you can use on its 74LS173s.
  4. Connect the Load input between the two 193s and to a new active low control line called SI on your 74LS138 decoder.
  5. Connect the QA-QD outputs of the lower counter to A8-A5 and the upper counter to A4-A1. Pay special attention because the output are in a weird order (BACD) and you want to make sure the lower A is connected to A8 and the upper A is connected to A4.
  6. Connect the A-D inputs of the lower counter to B8-B5 and the upper counter to B4-B1. Again, the inputs are in a weird order and on both sides of the chip so pay special attention.
  7. Connect the B1-B8 outputs of the 74LS245 transceiver to the bus.
  8. On the 74LS245 transceiver, connect DIR to power (high) and connect OE to a new active low control line called SO on your 74LS138 decoder.
  9. Add 8 LEDs and resistors to the lower part of the 74LS245 transceiver (A1-A8) so you can see what's going on with the stack pointer.
Enabling Increment & Decrement
We've now connected everything but the Count Up and Count Down inputs. The way the 74LS193 works is that if nothing is counting, both inputs are high. If you want to increment, you keep Count Down high and pulse Count Up. To decrement, you do the opposite. We'll use a 74LS00 NAND gate for this:
  1. Take the clock from the 74LS08 AND gate and make it an input into two different NAND gates on the 74LS00.
  2. Take the output from one NAND gate and wire it to the Count Up input on the lower 74LS193 counter. Take the other output and wire it to the Count Down input.
  3. Wire up a new active high control line called SP from your ROM to the NAND gate going into Count Up.
  4. Wire up a new active high control line called SM from your ROM to the NAND gate going into Count Down.
At this point, everything should be working. Your counter should be able to reset, input a value, output a value, and increment/decrement. But the issue is it'll be writing to $0000 to $00FF in the RAM! Let's fix that.
Accessing Higher Memory Addresses
We need the stack to be in a different place in memory than our regular program. The problem is, we only have an 8-bit bus, so how do we tell the RAM we want a higher address? We'll use a special control line to do this:
  1. Wire up an active high line called SA from the 28C16 ROM to A8 on the Cypress CY7C199 RAM.
  2. Add an LED and resistor so you can see when the stack is active.
That's it! Now, whenever we need the stack we can use a combination of the control line and stack pointer to access $0100 to $01FF.
Updating the Instruction Set
All that's left now is to create some instructions that utilize the stack. We'll need to settle some conventions before we begin:
If you want to add a little personal flair to your design, you can change the convention fairly easily. Let's implement push and pop (source code):
  1. Define all your new control lines, such as #define SI 0x0700 and #define SO 0x0005.
  2. Create two new instructions: PSH (1011) and POP (1100).
  3. PSH starts the same as any other for the first two steps: MI|CO and RO|II|CE. The next step is to put the contents of the stack pointer into the address register via MI|SO|SA. Recall that SA is the special control line that tells the memory to access the $01XX bank rather than $00XX.
  4. We then take the contents of AO and write it into the RAM. We can also increment the stack pointer at this stage. All of this is done via: AO|RI|SP|SA, followed by TR.
  5. POP is pretty similar. Start off with MI|CO and RO|II|CE. We then need to take a cycle and decrement the stack pointer with SM. Like with PSH, we then set the address register with MI|SO|SA.
  6. We now just need to output the RAM into our A register with RO|AI|SA and then end the instruction with TR.
  7. Updating the assembler is easy since neither instruction has operands. For example, push is just psh -> 0x0B.
And that's it! Write some programs that take advantage of your new 256 byte stack to make sure everything works as expected.

Step 4: Add Subroutine Instructions (Image)

The last step to complete our stack is to add subroutine instructions. This allows us to write complex programs and paves the way for things like interrupt handling.
Subroutines are like a blend of push/pop instructions and a jump. Basically, when you want to call a subroutine, you save your spot in the program by pushing the program counter onto the stack, then jumping to the subroutine's location in memory. When you're done with the subroutine, you simply pop the program counter value from the stack and jump back into it.
We'll follow 6502 conventions and only save and restore the program counter for subroutines. Other CPUs may choose to save more state, but it's generally left up to the programmer to ensure they're not wiping out states in their subroutines (e.g., push the A register at the start of your subroutine if you're messing with it and restore it before you leave).
Adding an Extra Opcode Line
I've started running low on opcodes at this point. Luckily, we still have two free address lines we can use. To enable 5-bit opcodes, simply wire up the 4Q output of your upper 74LS173 register to A7 of your 28C16 ROM (this assumes your opcodes are at A3-A6).
Updating the ROM Writer
At this point, you simply need to update the Arduino writer to support 32 instructions vs. the current 16. So, for example, UCODE_TEMPLATE[16][8] becomes UCODE_TEMPLATE[32][8] and you fill in the 16 new array elements with nop. The problem is that the Arduino only has so much memory and with the way Ben's code is written to support conditional jumps, it starts to get tight.
I bet the code can be re-written to handle this, but I had a TL866II Plus EEPROM programmer handy from the 6502 build and I felt it would be easier to start using that instead. Converting to a regular C program is really simple (source code):
  1. Copy all the #define, global const arrays (don't forget to expand them from 16 to 32), and void initUCode(). Add #include and #include to the top.
  2. In your traditional int main (void) C function, after initializing with initUCode(), make two arrays: char ucode_upper[2048] and char ucode_lower[2048].
  3. Take your existing loop code that loops through all addresses: for (int address = 0; address < 2048; address++).
  4. Modify instruction to be 5-bit with int instruction = (address & 0b00011111000) >> 3;.
  5. When writing, just write to the arrays like so: ucode_lower[address] = ucode[flags][instruction][step]; and ucode_upper[address] = ucode[flags][instruction][step] >> 8;.
  6. Open a new file with FILE *f = fopen("rom_upper.hex", "wb");, write to it with fwrite(ucode_upper, sizeof(char), sizeof(ucode_upper), f); and close it with fclose(f);. Repeat this with the lower ROM too.
  7. Compile your code using gcc (you can use any C compiler), like so: gcc -Wall makerom.c -o makerom.
Running your program will spit out two binary files with the full contents of each ROM. Writing the file via the TL866II Plus requires minipro and the following command: minipro -p CAT28C16A -w rom_upper.hex.
Adding Subroutine Instructions
At this point, I cleaned up my instruction set layout a bit. I made psh and pop 1000 and 1001, respectively. I then created two new instructions: jsr and rts. These allow us to jump to a subroutine and returns from a subroutine. They're relatively simple:
  1. For jsr, the first three steps are the same as psh: MI|CO, RO|II|CE, MI|SO|SA.
  2. On the next step, instead of AO we use CO to save the program counter to the stack: CO|RI|SP|SA.
  3. We then essentially read the 2nd byte to do a jump and terminate: MI|CO, RO|J.
  4. For rts, the first four steps are the same as pop: MI|CO, RO|II|CE, SM, MI|SO|SA.
  5. On the next step, instead of AI we use J to load the program counter with the contents in stack: RO|J|SA.
  6. We're not done! If we just left this as-is, we'd jump to the 2nd byte of jsr which is not an opcode, but a memory address. All hell would break loose! We need to add a CE step to increment the program counter and then terminate.
Once you update the ROM, you should have fully functioning subroutines with 5-bit opcodes. One great way to test them is to create a recursive program to calculate something--just don't go too deep or you'll end up with a stack overflow!

Conclusion

And that's it! Another successful upgrade of your 8-bit CPU. You now have a very capable machine and toolchain. At this point I would have a bunch of fun with the software aspects. In terms of hardware, there's a number of ways to go from here:
  1. Interrupts. Interrupts are just special subroutines triggered by an external line. You can make one similar to how Ben did conditional jumps. The only added complexity is the need to load/save the flags register since an interrupt can happen at any time and you don't want to destroy the state. Given this would take more than 8 steps, you'd also need to add another line for the step counter (see below).
  2. ROM expansion. At this point, address lines on the ROM are getting tight which limits any expansion possibilities. With the new approach to ROM programming, it's trivial to switch out the 28C16 for the 28C256 that Ben uses in the 6502. These give you 4 additional address lines for flags/interrupts, opcodes, and steps.
  3. LCD output. At this point, adding a 16x2 character LCD like Ben uses in the 6502 is very possible.
  4. Segment/bank register. It's essentially a 2nd memory address register that lets you access 256-byte segments/banks of RAM using bank switching. This lets you take full advantage of the 32K of RAM in the Cypress chip.
  5. Fast increment instructions. Add these to registers by replacing 74LS173s with 74LS193s, allowing you to more quickly increment without going through the ALU. This is used to speed up loops and array operations.
submitted by MironV to beneater [link] [comments]

The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong (Author: Simon Shen 沈旭暉)

The below essay by Simon Shen (沈旭暉), a Hong Kong-based political scientist and columnist.
Link to original essay: Facebook
YouTube channel (Cantonese)
His videos and articles has been on this sub a few times (See https://redd.it/hmttfa https://redd.it/gn5j83), so I thought this one is also worth a read and discuss, whether we agree or not.

The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong

July 1st, 2020 shall be remembered as the day Hong Kong completed its second Handover to China. A strong sense of despair clouds over the city as Beijing nuked us with the National Security Law (NSL). The thought of losing the authenticity of Hong Kong forever is ingrained in many of us.
The same day, the sun rises in the east as usual.The rule of thumb to survive this era of turmoil is to maintain control of your mental state. Remain unflappable by the ongoing absurdity. You live your life at your own pace with no restrictions. And that is how you win in society, at the workplace, on campus, and in marriage.
As to how we could achieve that, I hope my two-cents would give you some ideas.
The officials expected us to be overwhelmed, terrified, and occupied by NSL. Nevertheless, the clauses of the law have never been the main course of this extravagant meal. What truly awaits for us is the complete makeover of the Hong Kong ruling. Abolishing the standard procedure inherited from British Hong Kong, rationality and logical decision-making are soon replaced by the ambiguity of the authoritarian “rule of law” of China. Hong Kong has lost its place in the globe at the mercy of NSL; that is, to show a lucid message: Beijing could withdraw the “One Country, Two Systems” principle however it sees fit. Moreover, it is the re-education training CCP set up for Hongkongers to make them know their place and accept the “Mainland ideology,” which includes tolerating laws and regulations that are more “lenient” to serve the Chinese political agenda. Placing the national interests in heart, it is farewell to “Rule of Law,” and the common understanding of right and wrong and dos and don’ts.
This is the textbook example of authoritarian ruling. Perhaps people would be seeing some form of democracy and freedom; however, those were merely decoys in which the supreme power vested afar.
23 years after the Handover, pro-Beijing population remains small by default. The young generation rebukes Chinese identity even more than before. The enactment of NSL indicates the failure of CCP’s strategic approaches to entice Hongkongers. If the regular and United Front approaches failed through, they might as well execute eradication instead. It may appear as China is calling for enticement, but the underlying measures/gimmicks are showing something else. The grand Unity of Mainland and Hong Kong is nothing more than a hoax.
In this new Hong Kong, measurements taken to appease public backlash or allow people to express their frustration toward politicians or policies are stored in the past. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government has adopted more extreme approaches—severing Hong Kong into the pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp; bringing back Cultural Revolution tactics to effectively counteract dissentance; and activating 24/7 monitorization of the population. The propaganda of the CCP regime is to increasingly disintegrate the mutual trust between people by ratting and spying. Building the new norm where the civil society crumbles and espionage is normalized. People with malicious intent may find this new world rather exciting. Without the checks and balances or supervision in the system, the escalating waves of purging the “impure” in the next 2 years are anticipated.
The hostile public opinion of Hong Kong toward Beijing’s decisions have always been a throne in the flesh for the ruling party which led to it prioritizing the disunification of the Hong Kong civil society in the following 2 years—gathering the elites from all professions, alternating the policies of media regulations, reforming education to be more CCP-interests-oriented, and emphasizing the governmental compliance of all departments for effective executions of the new laws. The small population that is most affected by NSL would be those who are in the “Four Black Categories,” including the influencers and KOLs. The two major key points for Hong Kong government’s guidelines are “rule by law” and “always have the national interests at heart.” Regardless of NSL, Public Order Ordinance(POO) per se or any other laws could be used to incriminate the dissidents. Even a world-renowned Chinese artist such as Ai Weiwei was accused of Tax Evasion. Apolitical celebrities with millions of fans and could also be targeted; e.g. Fan Bingbing. Over time, people would adapt to self-censorship. As their minds slowly die of a thousand cuts to circumvent trespassing the political “bottom-line”, it includes avoiding dissenting the propaganda and minimizing exposure that may attract unwanted attention.
Oddly enough, if you were to be a tourist, you probably would not be able to capture the post-NSL nuances of this hollow Hong Kong. You would see all business continue, stock market arises, and the real estate market thrives as usual. It is as if the script written for the second Handover would play out successfully, as long as the basic needs of Hongkongers are satisfied.
Amidst of this turmoil, Hongkongers wouldn’t need me to elaborate more; however, we should ask ourselves if there is something else that we could do. Do you still remember how we were like before all of these occur? What are the options we have aside from obeying to the laws, immigrating out of our homeland, or starting riots? How should we live in the middle of this mess?
From the anti-extradition law protest to the ongoing movement we have today—disregarding the variations in the slogans—we are a part of the global transformation which is beyond politics and may very well be a segment of the fourth industrial revolution. Moving forward from now, with AI replacing brain-power taxing positions, it would be unlikely for anyone to have a stable job and their retirement secured. With that being said, we are facing a tomorrow where people could no longer rely on a singular path for career planning. The younglings are determined and flexible about making chances. They are independent individuals who seek for autonomy in life without relying on governmental entities, pro-establishment units, and consortiums, for their survival which tie into a global trend. The “ultrastable system” of the good old times Hong Kong is in the past. The young generation is calling for “Laam Chau.” (self-destruction to counterbalance Hong Kong government) Acknowledging the fact that enduring injustice would not secure any job positions, the young generation tends to take on entrepreneurship and minimizing their political dependency.
Many friends started talking about immigration. A decade ago, the media were hyping the topic regarding whether or not I would be immigrating to Singapore. I have been repeating myself—the concept of immigration is obsolete. Over the past year, would you say that the overseas Hongkongers contributed more to the movement or the apolitical Hongkongers? Even if we hold multiple citizenships, travel around the world, send our children to study abroad, or hold investments in another country, what would it matter? Any of those would not affect our Hongkonger identity. When online classes are given remotely on Zoom, would it matter if you are in Hong Kong or in Congo? The physical location of Hong Kong shouldn’t tie us down. We should sever ourselves from the idea of leaving or staying and make the world our home. By stitching the virtual world to the real world, we are undefeated by constant change. To me, that is what Hong Kong really is.
All censorship from the authoritarian regime have one in common; that is, the oppressions could never be reasoned with the Common Law. If the pro-democracy anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong,” is prohibited to be sung on campuses, what about the 80’s Cantopop hit, “Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies” or “Blowing in the Wind” which both hint liberation in the lyrics? As the movement slogan, “Five Demands, Not One Less,” was banned, could the protesters express their dissent by raising their hands to point out 5 and 1 or having the number 5 and 1 written over their tops? Does everything related to the number 5 and 1 need to be a politically sensitive topic? Could we still talk about the Labor Day that falls on May 1st? The rebellious ideology is embedded in the mind of Hong Kong protesters, as people have witnessed the incompetence of our government on a daily basis. This movement has been embodying innovation in various ways. No extra commentaries are needed. This is the true essence of “be water.”
Similarly, Poland and the Czech Republic in the 60s were under greater oppression than what we have been seeing in recent Hong Kong; however, “life always finds a way.” We now live in a globalized world where “colluding foreign forces” is unnecessary, with the help of our overseas brothers and sisters to amplify the pro-democracy messages to the international community. We shall acknowledge the fact that dwelling on the past does no one any good for sustaining this movement.
You could be someone who lacks the courage to venture out of the comfort zone, refuses to adapt to having multiple careers, resists leaving the physical location of Hong Kong, fears to put on a yellow helmet (a pro-democracy symbol), and chooses to be enslaved by the ruling party. Even if you are a Blue Ribbon ( pro-established or pro-Beijing person), as long as you are not a part of the most extreme 20% of the deep Blue Ribbon community, I say you are still a very valuable asset to Hong Kong. In this NSL-enacted Hong Kong, you should give it some thoughts about what advantages you hold that the “new Hongkongers” cannot offer. If you cannot answer this question, then no matter how patriotic you are, you will be eliminated in the next wave of selection. “Survival the fittest.” Even in Chinese companies, they still need Hongkongers to do the due diligence for them. In bureaucratic institutions, the Chinese would still need someone with a creative spirit and an international perspective while putting on a nationalist front.
Many have expressed their concerns toward the implementation of “Indoctrination” in Hong Kong, including some of the pro-Beijing parents. By sending their children to non-state-owned schools, their actions speak louder than their words. The new trend of education has confirmed that the traditional classroom model inherited from the 19th century Prussian teaching is outdated. Through big data, the teaching materials are personalized for individuals; moreover, students may build up their unique libraries of knowledge via their personal experience and curiosity. Regretfully, the new Hong Kong under authoritarian ruling embraces a rigid education system where syllabi and marking scheme is key to grooming the next generation of nationalists. The instructors would be under surveillance, school principals would bend to state-interests policies, and households would monitor each other for anti-government speeches or actions. Apparently, CCP would not succeed in brainwashing anyone with these educational reformations. Perhaps, Tik Tok may be more effective. Personalized education is an irreversible global trend. The authoritarian Hong Kong could butcher education but it could not prevent people from adapting to other alternatives. I would like to believe that the younger generations would harness the power of the internet and seize the opportunities given by an international community that has become more amiable to Hong Kong.
NSL’s main target is those who are “in collusion with foreign forces. How ironic is it to see how the strong connections between Hong Kong and the global community came back to bite per se? I recall reading from a research report, stating that on average every 1 out of 3 to 4 Hongkongers have connections overseas—overseas relatives, holding foreign qualifications or degrees, overseas working experience, having international investments, or having work contacts with foreign employees. Hongkongers have been colluding with the foreign forces before NSL made it a crime. The 2020 Hong Kong is suffering from cultural discontinuity created by the conflicts between the Chinese authoritarian system and the Western democracy system. Soon enough, “mass surveillance enabled by Big Data” vs. “A.I. regulated by privacy concerns” could be a multiple choice question for all Hongkongers. As long as Hongkongers are connected to the global network, we shall not lose our resilience against oppression.
To sum it up, Hongkongers have incorporated the world into “the revolution of our time.” March on and be water. The world we are facing is no longer black and white or binary of any sort. We may not reap what we sow. This is a long-term fight that requires us to be resourceful, as well as being mentally and physically prepared.
You may ask if I have ever wanted to leave Hong Kong. Ironically, since my 18th birthday, I have never stayed in Hong Kong for so long. The past 6 months, aside from pandemic, I have been sentimental toward this land. My profession and residences require me to travel a lot of places. I hardly stayed in Hong Kong for long as I made that decision deliberately 10 years ago. Now you may understand where I am coming from. Thus, I would not change for this NSL-enacted Hong Kong. I would not stay to make a statement, nor would I leave this land to make a stance. To my dear friends out there, my piece of advice has been the same—live like a digital nomad and have your footstep stamped locally and globally. No need to start from scratch. You may join a community that is well-established.
Should I self-censor for my safety? I’ve never been an editorial writer. My rationally words and videos are merely personal expressions of a Hongkonger. I honestly can’t get any more cautious. I am the same Simon Shen, now and always. We should not take any form of harassment or attacks personally.
Before the extradition law and the NSL, CCP had been effectively silencing dissents by sending them on one-way trips to Mainland China (i.e. Causeway Bay Books disappearances). The regime needed no bills to aid its attempt of kidnapping those who dare to voice up. Hong Kong has fallen too fast that no one bothers to attack or criticize the kidnaps. There is no such thing as making something less absurd by talking about it more. The systematic oppression of Hong Kong’s civil freedom does not only come from the without but also the within; especially when nowadays all we could talk about is “safety” and “survival.” It is exactly what CCP wanted for us to believe—we are trapped and our lives depends on our compliance. Hongkongers are being tested for our resilience. If we couldn’t pass this challenge together, how could we stand up tall as proud Hongkongers?
As to making ends meet, I’ve always believed that the global Hongkonger network is a large enough of encomany to support, expand, and give back to Hong Kong. We are all at its mercy, including me becoming a KOL. Within the Hongkonger community, I wish to be more practical and strategic; especially, in terms of elevating our quality of living. CCP is extremely calculative and different from us. It is my deepest belief that when the world sees how irreplaceable Hongkongers are that is the day when we can anticipate change. Before then, we will keep a low profile and prepare for this long battle.
Do expect the next two years to be a long rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. Hongkongers will only thrive through the hardships. Buckle up, winter is coming.
submitted by baylearn to HongKong [link] [comments]

CRTPi-VGA v3.0V - Find that VGA Monitor Yet?!

CRTPi Project Presents:

CRTPi-VGA v3.0V

A CRTPi image for running 240p on VGA CRT monitors
Other Releases:
Changelog: v3.0V for VGA-666 05/12/2020
Changelog: v2.5V for VGA-666 05/05/2020
Changelog: v2.0VX for VGA-666 03/21/2020
Required Hardware:
What is this?
Since I've been relegated to working from home for the next forever, I needed something to pass the time. Lots of users have asked for, and worked with me to create a solution for what we'll call the "Poor Man's BVM." A $5 Gert VGA666 adapter, cheap/free 31khz VGA Monitor, and a Pi packed with roms. What could be a better way to pass the quarantine?
For a long time, there were several stumbling blocks:
I finally stumbled upon some old threads with people listing out some 640x480 hdmi_timings, and that cracked the whole case wide open. I finally had the missing piece that could be slotted into my existing images. The end result is Emulationstation and other non-libretro emulators launching in 640x480p @ 65hz (great for PSP, DOSbox, ScummVM, and Kodi!) and all Retroarch emulators launching in 2048x240p or 1920x240p @ 120hz.
I opted to steer away from Black Frame Insertion and instead change the VSync Swap interval to 2 (running the framerate at half of 120hz). This solves the intermittent flicker and also the reduced gamma from BFI. Overall, it's a much more pleasing experience IMO. You can always change VSync Interval back to 1, and enable BFI in Retroarch if you the other way is better.
What Does That Look Like?
Here's a bunch of pics I took, some better than others!
What is Different?
See the current changelog and the v3.0 thread for a complete list.
What is Run-Ahead?
The Run Ahead feature calculates the frames as fast as possible in the background to "rollback" the action as close as possible to the input command requested.
I've enabled run-ahead on most of the 8 & 16-bit consoles and handhelds. A single frame (and using the second instance) is saved here, which dramatically improves input lag without affecting performance on a Pi3B+. More frames would require more hardware power, and may be achievable via overclocking.
lr-snes9x2010 consistent 60.0-60.2 FPS @ 60.098801hz lr-fceumm consistent 60.0-60.2 FPS @ 60.098801hz lr-beetle-pce-fast consistent 60.1-60.2 @ 60.000000hz lr-genesis-gx-plus consistent 59.9-60.2 FPS @ 59.922741hz (both genesis and sega cd) lr-picodrive consistent 59.9-60.2 FPS @ 59.922741hz (master system, game gear, and 32X) lr-gambatte consistent 60.0-60.2 FPS @ 60.098801hz (SGB2 framerate) lr-mgba consistent 59.8-60.4 FPS @ 60.002220hz (Gamecube framerate) 
To disable runahead for a game (or emulator):
Quick Menu > Latency > Run-Ahead to Reduce Latency > OFF 
What is Snap-Shader?
It's a Retroarch GSL shader that ensures games on CRT will look as good as on original hardware. It Makes games crisp vertically, and not shimmer horizontally. It correctly aligns the games for you regardless of console. Virtually eliminates the need for separate configurations per core (console).
https://github.com/ektgit/snap-shader-240p
Snap Shader (especially the snap-basic) is super useful on consoles where you may have a mix of horizontal resolutions within the core that you don't necessarily want to set individual game configs for. This is especially useful in PSX, FDS, PCE/PCE-CD, 32X, and MAME.
So far, the image is only set up for Snap-Basic (Pass: 1, Filter: Nearest, Scale: Don't Care) on lr-PCSX-ReARMed. If you care to, I would definitely try it out on other emulators. Here's the enable process:
  • Quick Menu > Shaders
  • Video Shaders > On
  • Shader Passes > 1
  • Shader #0 > snap-basic.glsl
  • Shader #0 Filter > Nearest
  • Shader #0 Scale > Don't Care
  • Save > Save Core Preset
What Does This NOT Have?
This doesn't have any ROMs (other than freeware test suites), BIOS files, music, screenshots, metadata, or videos concerning copy-written games. Other than the configurations and overlays, it has nothing that can't be downloaded through the repository or freeware.
Where Can I Get It?
You can download a premade image from Google Drive:
NOTE: Please expand your file system via Raspi-Config after your first boot, and reboot!
CRTPi-VGA v3.0V: For Pi3B/B+ with VGA666
MD5: 828cf4e5b67f67e8b5bd1e4fb8477332 
Default Retroarch Keyboard Hotkeys
*SPACE: Enable Hotkey* F1 Menu F2 FF Toggle F3 Reset F4 Cheat Toggle F5 Save State F6 Load State F7 Change State - F8 Change State + F9 Screenshot F10 Mute ENTER: Exit 
I have X Issue! Help?
I only have like 500mb of free space on my XXgb SD card!
You need to expand your file system via Raspi-Config. Follow these steps.
GBA, PSX, Neo-Geo, Sega-CD, PCE-CD, etc. games don't work!
I haven't included any bios's that didn't come with the retropie stock image, so you'll need to install the appropriate files in the BIOS folder. For Neo-Geo, I highly recommend the UniBios (renamed to neogeo.zip).
Samba Share won't work after I set up Wi-Fi!
Samba share service starts on boot, pending that a network is available. Configure your Wi-Fi then reboot first, and if that doesn't fix it then go into Retropie Setup > Configuration/Tools > Samba > Install Samba. Once it's complete, reboot and it should be golden.
USB-Romservice and/or Retropie-Mount don't work!
Follow this guide, but follow these steps before plugging in your thumb drive:
  • Go to Retropie-Setup
  • Update retropie install script
  • Go to Manage Packages -> Optional Packages
  • Scroll all the way down to usbromservice
  • Uninstall usbromservice
  • Install it again from Binary
  • Once finished, choose Configuration, then Enable USB Romservice
  • Reboot, and wait for it to fully boot in to ES
  • Plug in USB stick (has to be FAT32) and WAIT A LONG TIME (if your stick has a light, wait for it to stop flashing)
Timings for Boot and Runcommand
640 x 480p @ 65hz Timings: Emulationstation, DOSBox, ScummVM, etc.
640 1 56 56 80 480 0 1 3 25 0 0 0 65 0 36000000 1 #640x480 VGA666 
1280 x 720p @ 60hz Timings: Kodi
1280 1 80 72 216 720 1 5 3 22 0 0 0 60 0 74239049 1 #1280x720p 
Integer Scale Super-Resolution 240p @ 120hz Timings: All Retroarch Emulators
2048 1 180 202 300 240 1 3 5 14 0 0 0 120 0 85909090 1 #256x240/224p 1920 1 167 247 265 240 1 3 7 12 0 0 0 120 0 81720000‬ 1 #320x240/224p 1600 1 95 157 182 240 1 4 3 15 0 0 0 120 0 64000000‬ 1 #320x240/224p Alternate 
Integer Scale Super-Resolution 480p @ 60hz Timings: Dreamcast and PSP Retroarch Emulators
2048 1 180 202 300 480 1 6 10 28 0 0 0 60 0 85909090 1 #320/256x480/448p 
submitted by ErantyInt to u/ErantyInt [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Breaking Bad, Part 3

Continuing
“Hello and good day, gentlemen”, I say. “I am Doctor Rocknocker. You may and will refer to me as ‘Rock’. OK? None of this ‘Doctor’ or ‘Sir’ guff. We green here?”
There was a buzz of voices but no direct answers.
“OK. Let’s get a few things down right here and now.
(1.) Call me Rock.
(b.) Answer me loudly. I will need to hear you loud and clear. Best get used to that now.
(iii.) “We green?” means “Are we in agreement?” It’s a form of shorthand I use here and in the field.
(⍾.) “You diggin’ me, Beaumont? means you’ve really done gone and pissed me off; you’ve done something untoward. Pray you never hear that phrase, and,
(∞.) I’m the boss. The top dog. The hookin’ bull. The Maharaja here. I possess the first, final and only words you’re going to listen to for the next couple of weeks. What I say, goes. Any problem, please let me know now so we can replace you most quickly.”
A gentle buzz, but no replies.
“Gentlemen. Do we agree?” I ask.
“Yes, Rock.” Was the reply.
OK, there might be some form of a societal prohibition against making loud noises. That’s the first thing that has to go.
“Gentlemen, we will be working in the great outdoors where there are wind, rain, waves, and other environmental nonsense making all sorts of unrequited noise. We need clear and proper lines of communication. I need to hear you clearly and vice-versa. When speaking, you will speak slowly, clearly, and loudly. “
DO WE AGREE!?!” I yell, rather deafeningly.
“YES, ROCK!” came the eventual reply.
“Outstanding”. I ponder.
Continuing…
“Mr. Sanjay is my de facto second in command. If I’m out having a smoke, taking a piss, or having a snort, he’s in charge. Listen to him as if I suddenly lost 150 pounds, shaved my beard, and inexplicably become Indian.” I chuckled.
They seemed to enjoy that. I actually elicited a few chuckles.
“Mr. Sanjay will now distribute to you your locker boxes. You will wait until he hands you yours. Do not get up and mill around the room. We green?” I ask.
“Green! Doctor Rock.” Came the noisy reply.
“Progress. Marvelous.”, I reflect.
“I’ll be right back. Mr. Sanjay, the room is yours.” I note. I might need to cut back on the coffee.
I slope off to the loo and it’s just as horrible as you can imagine an outdoor communal shithouse in sunny India attended by 30,000 Indian gentlemen could be.
Fuck COVID-19. I’m thinking hot and cold running dysentery, dengue, and death here. Ick.
Glad I have a highly functioning immune system.
I retrieve a shiny aluminum Halliburton™ case from Headquarters and ease off to an unused office space to change.
I went from my usual field garb to full PPEs. It was quite a sight.
I’ll be telling you about it in mere moments. Contain the excitement.
I’m walking back to Outbuilding #2 and damned if my get-up didn’t elicit a few gasps, shielded guffaws, and a salute or two. I have to admit, to the uninitiated, I was a sight right out of Area 52, the more secret one, west by northeast of Roswell, New Mexico.
I get back to the outbuilding and enter. Everyone was looking through their locker boxes, chuckling about their good fortune and wondering with Joker-like glee what the hell all these wonderful gizmos were and where did I get them? They all stopped dead in their tracks when I walked in.
Their silence was palpable.
“Gentlemen”, I said, “Here’s how you are going to look at work tomorrow. Revel in its utility, comfort, and extreme fashion sense.” I did a quick spin like I used to on the runway.
At O’Hare when we were doing field geostatic tests. Whatever were you thinking?
Anyways…
I was wearing a pair of size 66-XTall NFPA 70E blaze orange Carhartt Nomex coveralls. I had on a Dax carbon-fiber blaze orange “Coal Scuttle” hardhat with swing-away hearing protection keyed into your personal communications module, and a gold-anodized, pull-down full face shield. The helmet was designed to drain away falling water down over one’s back and not down one’s neck.
I had a pair of ‘wet’ gloves under the snap retainer on my left shoulder, a pair of ‘dry’ gloves on my right. I was wearing an orange CMC Safety 9-point safety and rescue harness, good to well over 1,500 pounds. Over both shoulders, around the crotch, up the front, and around the back, X-style. This popular harness features multiple D-ring attachment points and the patented JackBack removable padding with breathable D-3 cloth, which keeps shoulder straps separated and makes donning and doffing a breeze. It had several catch-points where one could easily and readily attach to the snap carabiners and get bodily dragged out of a nasty situation by rope or chain. The front waist D-ring allows a comfortable, stable sitting position for rappels and the sternum D-ring works well for helicopter or crane-assist hoists. Gear loops offer easy access to equipment, and quick-connect-disconnect shoulder straps and leg loops make the harness quick to don or doff. It could be used for impromptu spelunking on days off.
I had on Size 16 EEE Gear Box 8088 Men's 8 inch Black Leather intrinsically-safe hard-toed lace-up black turned-heel leather work boots with the new self-cleaning, oil-and chemical resistant Vibram soles.
They couldn’t see, but I was also wearing a cotton-Nomex blend wifebeater and boxers as well. Nomex tends to chafe. Best be safe.
I had a powerful Maglite flashlight clipped to my rescue harness, as well as my mini Air Horn; a blaster’s must. I also had a mobile VHF-Commslink™ radio in a pocket on the back of my coveralls on the left shoulder. I had the microphone for it Velcro-ed to my rescue harness within easy reach. Very cop like. Very cool. Very necessary.
I had a traditional Zippo and Bic Butane lighters in my right-hand chest pocket and a brace of cigars, though these were optional, in my left pocket. I carried a bespoke constructed Swiss Army Knife on a lanyard in my right front pocket and had a custom Bears Paw Leatherman hanging on the left of my rescue harness.
Also clipped to the harness was a Silva orienteering compass. There was a selection of NASA write anywhere pens, Sharpies, and oil-writing chalk pencils in my other front pockets. I had an oil industry tally book in my other front pocket.
Why blaze orange? Well, Red Adair already co-opted bright red, and fluorescent green wasn’t available in my size.
So, we’re now ready to plant explosives in West India or go deer hunting in the Northwoods of Baja Canada.
“Questions, Gentlemen?” I asked.
I explained that in their locker boxes were purchase orders, POs, for every bit of kit I was wearing. They were to take these POs to the Company Store and get, well, kitted out in their own sizes and preferences. I wanted to see everyone back here tomorrow at 1300 hours looking as I do now. Well, maybe skip the cigar and be not quite so large.
I sat down on the table in front of the crowd and had Sanjay bring over the demo locker box.
“OK, gents,” I said, “This locker box is yours and is numbered as such. They will be stored here in Outbuilding #2. Each of you will receive a key for this building as it is now your headquarters. We’ll get back to locker boxes in a minute. Anyone need a break for a few minutes?” I asked.
No one dared answer at this magical juncture in the narrative.
“Well, I do”, I said, “Meet back here in twenty minutes. Sanjay?”
The class wandered out and I conversed with Sanjay. We found the maps I had ordered.
They were an aerial view of the breaking yard and it was split into 6 zones, all a different color. There was one master for the wall and 28 copies for the guys. I also had a log-in/log-out board made. Vertically numbered 1 to 28. There were also 7 vertical bars labeled Zone 1 through Zone 6, and one for ‘in dispose’; i.e., in Latrin-e Land. This was so I’d know where my guys were at all times.
There was a hook for each one of these areas to log in, and to let anyone know where a certain person was during the day or night. You’re number 10? And you’re going to be wielding a torch over in Zone 5? Your brass tag goes right there. You’re going to skip over to Zone 3? Get your ass back here and swap it over to where you’re going. There is no excuse for being where you haven’t said you were, short of active accident or dismemberment.
Everyone shuffles back in and I explain the tote board.
“Notice there’s no spot to leave your brass chit if you’ve gone off the reservation?” I asked. “Why do you suppose that is?”
Confused looks all around.
“Because you keep that brass token with you when you’re not on the job. Lose it, lose your job. Sounds harsh, but so is getting your fucking hands blown off. Think of it as an exercise in discipline.”
There was a very little rebuttal.
“When you are on location, your brass token will reflect where you are. You are off-site, put the brass token in your wallet next to your lucky ‘circular impression’.
There were several knowing grins in my cadets.
Wear it around your neck on a chain. Keep it on your keyring. You can wrap it up in ribbons, you can slip it in your sock; I don’t care. Thing is, it is your ticket to this job. Hold on to it, there will be no replacements. We green?”
“Green, Doctor!”
“Outstanding.”
“Now, locker boxes. Gentlemen”, I continued. “These are your personal boxes that will be archived here. They will contain everything that you will need to carry out the job initially and help you with training the next crew that comes through after I leave. Keep them neat and tidy. I like to pull unannounced locker box inspections, gentlemen. Be forewarned.”
The sound of active scribbling is music to my tinny ears.
“Now, as such”, I continue, “Each locker box, at this point, is identical. Please follow along with me as we do inventory: Each gets locker box will contain (as I pull out the item for identification):
• 1- set Purchase Orders (POs) for PPEs
• 1- Galvanometer
• 2- Blaster’s pliers
• 1- Custom Leatherman
• 1- Metal clipboard
• Various Pens, pencils, paper, etc.
• 5- Sharpies
• 1 copy: Blasters Protocols Handbook, 15th Edition
• 1 copy: Blasting and explosives safety training manual by the IEE.
• 1 copy: Theory and practice of blasting, by Hino (A classic)
• 1 copy: Blasters Handbook, 17th Edition
• Various Explosives catalogs
• 1- Custom Swiss Army Knife
• Several Butane lighters
“Are we in agreement, gentlemen?” I ask. “Please check to be certain you have what the manifest states.”
“As long as we’re going over locker boxes, let’s look at our set of PPE purchase orders. Each locker box will contain POs for:
• 1 pair Orange Nomex coveralls, in your size
• 1 Dax carbon-fibre blaze orange hardhat with ear protection, gold face shield
• 1- CMC Safety 9-point extraction harness with carabiners
• 2- pairs Safety Glasses
• 2- pairs of gloves –wet & dry
• 1- pair Gear Box 8088 hard-toed intrinsically safe 8” work boots
• 1- Silva Orienteering Compass
• 3- pairs of cotton WaterWick socks
• 1- CommsLink™ VHF radio with microphone
• 1- Maglight power flashlight
• 1- Rain suit – also Nomex, bibs and outer shell
• 1- Mini Air Horn Power Tootler
• 1- Pair cotton/Nomex blende underwear – anti-chafe, wifebeateboxer: 3 sets.
• 1- 16-ounce container ‘Babies Bottom’ Talcum powder. Nomex chafes.
“Well, that’s a lot of gear; you best become real familiar with it as soon as you can. You are responsible for your PPEs. Lose them and replace them at your own cost. Wear them out? No problem. We will replace them. Get caught on location without your proper PPEs? Alavida. Goodbye. There is no second try. Fuck up once, and you’re gone. I am here for a limited time to try and teach you characters how to blast boats. I am not here to be your wet-nurse or mother. We green?” I ask.
“YES! Green! Rock!”
“Outstanding!”
We spend about an hour going over the various contents of the locker boxes and I answer general questions about blasting and explosives.
“We will use Primacord by the mile and tons of C-4 primarily. I might introduce you to binary explosives if there’s time. We might also get into PETN and RDX. Dynamite for training. But that’s about it.”
“We will use demolition wire and electrically fired blasting caps and boosters. We might have some time to look at set-pull-forget mechanicochemical fuses. But you’ll all learn some basic electrical wiring and how to design a circuit.”
“Tomorrow, given it doesn’t rain and the creek don’t rise.”
“Time, gentlemen!” I said. It’s been a long day and I’m a bit jet-lagged knackered. Besides, I wanted to give that Jacuzzi a spin.
“OK, remember: get your PPEs tomorrow morning at the Company Store. I expect to see each and every one of you here tomorrow, kitted out and ready to go, at 1300 sharp. That’s it. See you tomorrow. Susandhya. [Good evening.]” I said.
Locker boxes are locked and stowed in an orderly fashion. Each and everyone one of my 24 acolytes come to me before he leaves work to thank me personally and shake my hand.
“This might just work out”, I say to no one in particular.
Sanjay and I head back to the Raj for the night. I’m really tired, finally feeling the jet travel hit, and not the least bit hungry.
However, I do ring up the 214 cigar dude and relieve him of a selection of fine smokes. I drop by the bar for a couple of barley-pops before I retire to my capacious room for the night.
“Sanjay”, I say, “I’m knackered. If anyone wants me, head them off until tomorrow. It can wait. I’m going to get some kip and don’t want to be disturbed. No maids, no Majordomo, no butler. I just want to get unconscious for a while.”
“No problem, Rock”, Sanjay assures me, “I’ll tell them you’ve gone bush and haven’t left a forwarding address.”
“Good man”, I say, patting him on the shoulder. Hell, I must be getting old. Shit like teaching a band of newbies and whooping a little ass would have never as much as caused me a short breath. Then again, it’s probably not the years, it’s really the mileage…
After a quick light breakfast come morning, Sanjay and I are back on location. I’m being given a tour of the place by the day-shift foreman, one Mr. Vikramaditya Shrivastava.
“Yikes”, I say to Sanjay, “You characters really go for your 11-syllable names.”
“Call him ‘Vik’, Rock”, Sanjay smiles, “Good thing you’ve never asked about my last name.”
“Probably is”, I snicker back. I’m not getting roped into this little tussle.
Vik speaks fairly passable English, but I’m still glad Sanjay is here. The first order of business is to see the explosives bunker I sent plans for and how that’s coming along. They tell me it’s almost finished and ready to be stocked with what I’ve ordered.
“Outstanding, let’s have a look,” I say.
Into the Citation Golf Cart, we go. None of this plebian walking shit. We’re MIPs, Monstrously Important People.
Plebes walk, we ride.
We drive around the piles of rusty scrap, huge hunks of bulkhead, and disconcertingly quickly through polychromatic puddles of who-knows-what to slide to a stop in front of a large canvas tent.
Think M *A *S *H-type mess tent.
“What’s this?” I ask, “Commissary? First Aid?”
“No, Dr. Rock”, Vik explains, “Here are your explosives.”
My eyes grow large.
“What do you mean?” I ask. What the fuck do you mean? I mean.
“Building of your bunker is taking more time than we expected what with your design imperatives. But your order was filled most expediently. We are storing it here until the bunker is complete.” He smiles in that inimitable Indian manner that is so irritating when they don’t realize the major fuck-up they’ve just committed.
“OK. Simmer down, Rock.” I say to myself. “Sanjay, ask him again what’s in that tent. That bottomless tent that’s just a sheet of tarpaulin held up by metal poles.”
“He says that’s your explosives order, Rock,” Sanjay says. His demeanor went from perky and helpful to terrified as he saw me turn several shades of crimson and begin to emit wisps of steam.
“Sanjay”, I said in calm, calculated terms. “You are telling me there are over 9 tons of high explosives, blasting caps, boosters, demo wire, and ANFO sitting on wet sand in this heat under a sheet of fucking tarpaulin?”
“Yes?” he stammered, with a squeak.
“OK.”, I said. “We need to keep very calm and not go completely apeshit; and I’m telling you, right now, that’s taking Augean-level effort. We have a situation here, Mr. Sanjay. A very, very dangerous and very deadly situation. Let’s above all, remain calm.”
“Right, Rock”, he replies.
I turn to Vik and say in a calm and collected tone, “YOU STUPID MOTHERFUCKER! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
“Calm and collected, right, Rock?” Sanjay smirks and Mr. Vik withers under my verbal assault.
“Sorry, I had to get that one out.”, I apologized, “Mr. Vik. You have created a real blockbuster here. Quite literally. I figured, erroneously it seems, that you would not take delivery of over 9 TONS of high explosives before you had a very safe and secure place to store such.”
“It arrived sooner than we thought. We got a good price on it,” he explained.
You did? Fucking great! Holy mothering fuck!
Now I was even more worried. One does not get discounts or bargain-basement deals on quality high explosives.
“Pray, Mr. Vik”, I entreated, “From where did you source these detonic components?”
“From Best Blast and Supply Llc of Hong Kong Enterprises.” He replied, “Bulk discount quantities, quick delivery bonus. Saved crore rupee.”
No. I was wrong, it could get worse.
Not only 9 tons of high explosives, 9 tons of counterfeit, knock-off, and non-regulated manufacturer explosives.
“OK”, I said, “Let’s take stock here. My bunker isn’t finished yet? Correct? So you and the company meatheads ordered 9 tons of knock-off explosives from some shady and cheesy Chinese dealer and you stored them on wet beach sand, in this heat, under a tarp? Have I got all that right?”
“Oh, yes Doctor Rock.”, he smiled.
“Sanjay”, I said in a low, firm tone, “We have a…situation. We need to cordon this area off and build an exclusion zone as far as we can around it. No one, and I mean no one, gets within what, 10 kilometers? of the tent. This thing goes off, it’s going to leave a much larger than that cone of devastation. Then we need to visit with the management of this place and have a few thousand well-chosen four-letter words. Then I can think about what the fuck we’re going to do about this situation. I’m struggling to remain calm so everyone else will, but this is just a wee bit tetchy. Find me some red flags and start planting them around the tent, working our way out. Let’s go. Calmly, collectively, and with purpose.”
We find a source of 2-meter poles with red pennants. Sanjay also finds a few miles of yellow “Danger: Stay The Fuck Away” tape. We gather then and head back to the tent. We start to spiral out from it planting flags and running tape.
We did the best we could, but we were disrupting daily business activities. Good. Let the head idiots in charge know they’ve fucked up and grandly.
Back at headquarters, I’m fuming. I’m damn mad. I’m loud and being all extremely American about all this.
“You fucking idiots! 9 tons of cheap-shit high explosives? From China? Stored on wet sand in this heat? Under a benchod tarp? Why the flying fuck do you think I sent such detailed plans for a storage bunker? Do you assholes even think?” I railed on like this for at least half an hour, going all Gene Wilder in ‘Young Frankenstein’.
“Yes, Doctor”, one Mr. Karam Kanungo, the local boss and company president said, “That is all true and steps will be taken to redress the situation. But that doesn’t address the issue at hand. What do you suggest?”
“I suggest you are all taken out and given hot coffee high colonics to clear out your thinking processes”, I spit, “But that still leaves us with a nine-ton headache out there waiting to bloom into something even more aggravating.”
The entire assembled board agreed.
I calm down a bit and have a think. Fuck your boardroom, I’m having a cigar.
“You need a licensed, certified, master blaster to go and sort that out. Do you happen to have one handy?” I asked, sweeter than clover honey.
“Ah, yes, you are…oh.”, was the collective realization.
“Yeah, I know. It’s me. I’m the only one that can sort this shit out. We can’t even wait until we find someone from the world to assist. We are sitting on a literal time bomb, gentlemen.” I reply.
They all agreed and were relieved I was going to take on the challenge.
What else could I do? That stuff lights off and we’re talking easily hundreds if not thousands of fatalities and countless injuries. Fuck that. Not on my watch.
I tells ya’ what. The fucking Karma Fairy better shower me with gifts and accolades, blowjobs and candy corn after all this.
In a metaphorical sense, of course.
“OK, Mr. Sanjay, you’re with me.” I say, “Now look, Herr Macs”, I address the collective board, “Before I had carte blanche. Now, if I even think we might need something, it appears. We’ll sort out our honoraria and bonuses for this after we get back.”
Everyone present agreed most hastily. Handshakes all around and apologies from the board cemented the issue.
“OK, Sanjay. I need a bus. At least 24-seater. With a driver than knows how, when, and where to stop. OK?” I ask.
“24, Rock?”, Sanjay asks, “You’re not thinking of including the recruits now, are you?”
“Yes I am, Mr. Sanjay.”, I replied sternly, “On the job training. Meet me at outbuilding #2 at 1300 as per plan. Order a bus and arrange the largest forklift that can manage beach sand, about 100 wooden pallets, plastic wrap, and sandbags. Lots and lots of sandbags. Have them stockpiled away from the tent in a muster area. OK. You got all that?”
“Yes, Rock”, he said, “I’ll be there in a couple of hours. It will only take a few phone calls.”
“Marvelous.”
Not even 1000 in the fucking morning and I’m facing life and death decisions once again. I dig an emergency flask out of my field vest. If this doesn’t qualify as an emergency, what the fuck does?
A tot or two later, I change into my PPEs, and light a cigar. I catch a tap-tap to the region of the tent. I need to reconnoiter the area and figure out what sort of dragon I have to slay and the best way of going about slaughtering the sumbitch.
I’m standing alone, about 250 meters from the tent of death.
I’m puzzling and puzzling; but I can’t allow for my puzzler to go sore. Not this early, anyway.
“OK, me ol’ mucker”, I sigh, “It’s me or thee. Pucker up, Buckwheat. Here I come.”
A blast suit like the ones bomb disposal dudes wear wouldn’t help in the least. All it would do is hold the mashed body parts together to make for easier disposal. I’m anywhere within a kilometer or so of this pile of Chinese counterfeit boom-makers and it decides to let go; I’m lunchmeat. That’s it. Alive one second; kerpow, splat, instantaneously zonked into component particles the next. That’s the long and short of it. No ‘thank you’s. No ‘good bye’s. Just existing here one minute and in an alternate dimension the next.
Doesn't that just take the biscuit? Funny old thing, life.
I trod onwards.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.
I was walking up to the tent, clearing a path for the forklift. No fucking way I’m schlepping nine tons of dodgy explosives out of here, over wet beach sand, by hand and hoof.
Sand. I’m with young Anakin on this one. I hate sand. I hate walking in dry sand, hiking in wet sand. It makes for a wonderful oil reservoir and I love its porosity and permeability at depth. But at the surface, forget it. Yow! Let me tell you about the time I was out in the Rub al-Khali desert. The great Sand Erg. Wind blowing a force 9 gale! Seif dunes 1,000 meters high…
Yeah. I know. I’m stalling.
I’m approaching the tent. Carefully. I pause to light a new cigar. You might think that daft, but it’s really not. None of the stuff inside is heat-sensitive; let me clarify. None of the stuff is going to go off if hit by errant ash or even a sustained flame. But sitting out in the 30C+ heat? OK, that makes it twitchier. Cigars do the opposite for me. Give me something to concentrate upon and it calms me down.
I need calm now. By the bucketful. Where’s a monsoon when you really need one?
OK, I made it. I’m at the tent. Got to hand it to the workers around here, they respect authority and don’t come anywhere near the tent. They also don’t apparently give a shit as there no crowd gathered filming me with their iPhones to post to You Tube© if the tent decides to go all detonic.
Good. I couldn’t yell anything at them they’d understand to clear out anyway.
I open the hole in the side of the tent and pause. I’m hit with a wave of hot air. And the heady redolence of onions, sewer gas, and dog farts.
Sorry, that’s just me. Weird midnight snack last night. Frozen durian. What a treat.
Anyways.
I smell kerosene. Old wood pulp, like musty magazines. And an undercurrent of almonds.
“Oh, treble fuck me,” I say to no one within 100 square kilometers.
Kerosene is sweaty C-4. Old wood pulp is dynamite. Almonds? My old friend, nitroglycerine.
Things, if possible, went from real to super-uber major-league holy-fuck real.
“OK”, I say, as I dig out my phone and begin to snap pictures at a frantic rate.
Luckily, all the ordnance was piled like-with-like. Blasting caps? All over here. C-4, all along this ‘wall’. Dynamite? All over here. Non-explosives? Right over here.
I was mentally running like a squadron of overclocked Crays, wondering what I need to do to sort out this little situation. I’m so deep in thought, someone would need to throw me a rope to get my attention.
Or, just tap me on the shoulder.
Once I returned from low earth orbit, I turn to see a little wisp of an Indian feller, who had to be at least 27 years Methuselah’s senior.
“What? THE? Actual? Fuck? Are? You? DOING? Here?” I screamed.
“A thousand pardons, Sahib.”, the ancient one said, “I saw you working alone. Salim wonders if you need some help? Salim is good helper. Salim will help you good.”
“Yes, Salim. Oh, hello by the way.”, I said, calming a bit, forcing myself to smile so I didn’t kill him on the spot, “I do need your help. I need you to go, very slowly, out of this tent and to where the flags begin. Stand there and allow access to no one. OK. We green?”
Salim smiles broadly revealing both teeth. I slowly usher him out and remind myself to order a few new pairs of boxers before the day is out.
Back to the problem at hand. There are some salvageable items here. But the most the C-4, all the dynamite and every sack of ANFO has to go. And by ‘go’, I mean be disposed of. How?
By blowing it up, how else?
An idea creeps into my skull. I puff and puff while it grows and finally, I’ve a plan of attack.
I close the tent and slowly walk away. I hand Salim 1000 rupees and tell him that no one, I don’t care if it was Mahatma Gandhi reincarnate, goes anywhere near that tent.
“You savvy?” I ask.
“Oh, Sahib! I savvy! Thank you! Salaam! I savvy!” he is beside himself with joy, 13 bucks, and a task.
I look at my watch. It’s just gone noon. Good. I need a sandwich, some fluid replacement, as I’ve probably literally sweated off 5 kilos in the last hour and a half, and some time to jot down my plans.
I catch a tap-tap, geez, these things are everywhere around here. They form an unsanctioned, but necessary, sort of intradepartmental transport system here. I tip a couple of hundred rupees for every trip. They see blaze orange and they have this Pavlovian reaction. I sometimes need to break up fist-fights over which driver arrived first.
“Commissary”, I say, sit down, let the tap-tap, which is really nothing more than a glorified golf cart, adjust to my Western bulk and away we zip.
Salim is waving to me as we depart.
I shudder to think if I hadn’t had a tot or two and was a bit jumpier from the morning’s caffeine. Here's to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.
At the commissary, I grab a tall iced, fruit cocktail juice; a slurry of mixed dragon fruit, kiwi, carambola, blood orange, green apple, watermelon, bitter melon, sweet melon, & bailan melon fruity essence. I’m incredibly thirsty and I need some calories, but not in bulk and not from onion bhajis, mutton kabobs, or something claiming to be grilled chicken on a stick.
The last thing I need today is a case of the trots or even sharp gas pains in the next few hours. I add about 5 fingers of Old Fornicator Vodka to the juice and sip it slowly as my biometric rhythms return from the ionosphere and back to more normal levels.
Remember, I’m EtOh-based. I need to control my various fluid levels very carefully.
The blasting muse is upon me. In less than 30 minutes, I have a plan. Both a written out procedure and a map of what needs to be done.
I finish off another tall, icy glass of potato and various fruit juices, venture outside feeling almost like I’ve once again regained the illusion of control of the situation and my life.
I fire up a heater and decide to walk the approximately 1100 meters to outbuilding #2. I’m thinking as I sashay along; figuring this and calculating that.
I round the corner and see Outbuilding #2 and a bus parked next to it.
The bus looks like a refugee from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The movie and album.
I go into Outbuilding #2 and see about half the class has arrived, and they are all kitted out in their new, stiff, and scratchy PPEs.
I nod hello to all and see Sanjay over across the room.
“Mr. Sanjay”, I say, “Nice bus. What’s the story?”
“Only one I could find that was a 24 seater, not actively falling apart, and with an English speaking driver. Rock. Mr. Maha, owneoperator.” He replied.
“Mr. Maha”, I said, shaking his hand. “Love the bus. Some sort of passion project?”
Mr. Maha laughs. “I was city bus driver for 39 years. I retire and go nuts. I buy old bus and fix up mechanicals. Runs all like excellently. Looks like dung heap. I begin to paint and never quite knew when to stop.”
“I like it. Adds a sense of surrealism to the day, as if it really needs more.” I reply, “However, I do hope you know how to stop. I mean that sincerely. We have a literal bomb to defuse. Does that bother you?”
“No, Doctor”, he says, “Nothing much bothers me anymore. I know. You are here. You are to make safe. I feel safe that you’re here. Let us go to work.”
“Outstanding”. I say.
I tell him that a fat bonus will be his when this is all over if all goes to plan.
“Unnecessary.”, he replies, “Mr. Sanjay has already paid me.”
“Paid? Perhaps”, I reply, “You are going to get danger money whether you like it or not.”
“I guess I will like it, Doctor.” He smiles.
“Marvelous.”
I look at the clock, it’s 1256. Almost showtime.
1300 on the spot. I pick up the microphone and address the assembled 24.
“Gentlemen”, I say, “Very good. You all look like late October in the United States. Very festive.” as all are kitted out in their respective PPEs.
“We have a little matter to handle. One that has just cropped up and one you’re certainly not ready for, but I have no other choice. Does that bother anyone here?” I ask.
Head shakes and questions arise.
“OK, class”, I say, “For your first training exercise, we’re going to defuse a 9-ton bomb. Let’s go.”
The collective gasp drew my cigar smoke in another direction, right towards them.
“Doctor…Ah, Rock. Really?” one brave soul asked for the crowd.
“Yes”, I said, “seems your company officials got a ‘real deal’ on some dodgy Chinese explosives. They didn’t wait until they finished the storage bunker I had designed, so they simply set the stuff on the beach and covered it with a canvas tent.”
There were more gasps.
“Indeed”, I said, “We need to neutralize this threat. Sanjay is passing out copies of my plan and designs on just how to do this. Read them over and let me know what you think. You have 5 minutes. We’re out of here at 1330 on the nose.”
They read quickly, cogitated over the plans and as I had assumed, didn’t find any flaws within.
“OK”, I say after an inch of cigar had passed, “You follow my directions, directly and without question, there’s no reason you can’t come out of this alive and happy, free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.”
There was a chuckle or two at that last line. ‘Airplane’ is such a classic movie.
“Now I know”, I continued, “That this is pretty scary shit. Especially for you guys, being tossed in the deep end like this. I know because I’m scared to death.”
“Oh, Doctor Rock”, one of my acolytes said, “We do not believe this is so.”
“I stay alive by being scared to death”, I replied. “You will learn this as well.”
Sanjay checks out everyone’s PPE and all appear in good order. They are happy to have such nice, new equipment.
And that’s a problem. People used to ragged and ratty shit with which to work will go to extraordinary lengths to not filthy-up brand new working gear. This is one little bugaboo I’m going to settle here and now.
“One thing, gentlemen”, I note, “You all have nice, clean, and new PPEs. You look great. You come back to Outbuilding #2 looking as pristine, you’re gone. Keeping clean is not a part of your training. You’re going to sweat and stink. You keep to clean and it tells me you’re goldbricking, that is, not doing your job.” I say as I surreptitiously unscrew the top of my travel mug, ‘accidentally’ trip and shower the front row with Greenland coffee, lukewarm.
“See?”, I saw, “They were totally protected. That’s what PPEs are all about. We green?”
“Somewhat brown, Rock”, a couple of the guys in the front row reply without a hint of irony.
“Outstanding.”
“Gentlemen, it is time. Take what you think you’ll need and leave the rest in your locker box. Brass tags to Sector 4. On the bus, we leave in 5 minutes.”
I move my brass marker to Zone 4, puff a blue cloud for all to see, and head out to the bus.
We’re loaded and headed to Sector 4 in less than 5 minutes.
“OK”, I say”, I’m going to break you up into groups of 4. Tags number 1 to 4, you’re group 1. 5-8, group 2, and so on. OK?”
All respond in the affirmative.
OK. Six groups of four, Sanjay and me to lead the pack. We roll up to just outside the exclusion zone. With a squeal of brakes, we grind to a halt.
“Outside”, I command, “Assemble in your groups next to the bus. Go!”.
Like a well-oiled team, they de-bus and stand together in 6 groups. Sanjay and I walk along, inspecting the troops.
“OK”, I say, “This may seem like a shit job, but group 4. Back on the bus. To the commissary. Water, juice, and whatever else you think we’ll need to stay hydrated out there. Don’t worry, we’re going on rotation once you get back. You’ll all get a chance to do the exciting stuff. Now, move it.”
I say something to Sanjay, he jots it down in his book, certain to remind me later.
“OK, let’s see. Group 1. Storage detail. Build the temporary in-ground storage locker like it’s shown in the plan. Get help and have them source the manpower and materials. It needs to be done in the next 2 hours. Go!”
There are some explosives that can be salvaged. I need a place to store them. I’ve scouted and laid out a spot away from prying eyes where they can build an 8x8x8 hole in the ground, line it with marine plywood, and store whatever we can salvage. A plywood roof over the thing, a couple of locks, and well, Robert’s your Mother’s Sister’s Husband.
Next, I send group 3 to build a road from the tent to an area on the beach sourced as Disposal Area #1. They will take flags and tape and run a road, of sorts, from the tent to the beach; cordoning it off so we can take the forklift and its loads of dodgy high explosives to the disposal area.
The other groups are doing needful and necessary things as well. I tell Sanjay to keep a lid on things, I’m going to bring the forklift, a few pallets, sandbags and such in for the first run.
I find the forklift, and it’s a huge old Hyster 52-ton truck.
It’ll do.
The keys are in, so I drop in and fire it up. It catches on the first twirl and I pick up a half-dozen wooden pallets, a bunch of sandbags, and a few huge rolls of plastic wrapping. It’s like driving a tank, but it has plenty of power and just a low gear range.
I drive it back to Sector 4 and almost rum over Salim. He was taking my previous orders very seriously, indeed.
“All cool, Salim”, I say over the roar of the forklift, “It’s just me.”
He waves and lets me pass. He’s serious as a heart attack about keeping people out.
I drive and realize that I can’t drive ‘gingerly’ in a conveyance such as this. I can drive deliberately and with forethought, but it rumbles and shudders the ground. Best to slide in, drop the load, and shut her down while I figure out what’s next.
I do so and drop the pallets, etc., just outside the flap of the tent. I back off a few feet, drop the forks, and shut the noisy machine down for the time being.
Sanjay appears. As does Crew #5. I motion them to come over, slowly and with forethought.
We’re all standing outside the tent flap. I raise an index finger, right, of course, to get their attention.
“Gentlemen, first lesson. What says these explosives have gone bad? Answer:” and I open the tent flap.
“Take a whiff. What do you smell?” I instruct.
“Old paper?” was one answer.
“Oil? Petrol? Something petrochemical?” was the next.
“Almonds?” Sanjay says.
“Highest marks. We’ve old C-4. It sweats and smells like kerosene. Old paper or pulp? Dynamite gone wet and bad. Almonds? Bitter, bitter almonds? Nitroglycerine. Yes, guys. We’ve got rogue nitro inside. Anyone want to quit? Now’s your chance.” I ask, being deadly serious.
One looks to another; then they all look to me…eyes wide…
To be continued…
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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.
the below is a reply to the above
Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies? DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic: 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.
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.
the below is a reply to the original answer
What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua? DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.
Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever? DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page 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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CRTPi4-RCA v3.4FX - Composite TV-Out for your Pi4!

CRTPi Project Presents:

CRTPi4-RCA v3.4FX

A CRTPi image for running 240p via 3.5mm Composite on the Raspberry Pi4
Other Releases:
Changelog: v3.4FX for RCA (PAL Only) 5/18/2020
Changelog: v3.4FX for RCA (NTSC&&PAL) 5/17/2020
Changelog: v3.0F for RCA 5/11/2020
Changelog: v2.0F for RCA 4/1/2020
Changelog: v1.1FX 12/20/2019
Changelog: v1.0F Hotfix 10/31/2019
Changelog: v1.0F 10/29/2019
Changelog: v0.4 10/22/2019
Changelog: v0.3 10/2/2019
How does this even work!?
The amazing u/b0xspread has found a way to enforce modeswitching by watching the logs and processes, and continuing to enforce our desired mode long after the system wants to revert back. We're both expanding this scripting further to hopefully solve the same issues on the RGB and VGA forks -- but progress is slow due to the complex and varied nature of available resolution modes on those builds. But for now, let's just call this "black magic."
What Does That Look Like?
Here are some examples of games being played in beautiful 240p on CRT sets using the RCA Image!.
What is Different?
  • Retropie 4.6 (build 72132587 commit 05/07/20 Buster 10)
  • Retroarch 1.8.5
  • Full Apt-Upgrade for newest firmware and app dependancies (Recommended to repeat this function on your own Pi4)
  • 4GB (3872256 KB Uncompressed Image) (Compressed via WinRAR to 1043540KB)
  • SSH, Samba Share, and USB Rom Service enabled by default
  • Heavily modified Sakitoshi CRT-TVout script for switching between 480i and 240p
  • Further modified Sakitoshi script by u/b0xspread to allow video resolution switching on Pi4 Architecture
  • Optional overclock values in /boot/config.txt for Pi4 (disabled by default) [RECOMMENDED!]
  • NTSC @ 60hz 720/640x480 480i Resolution for Emulationstation & Kodi
  • PAL @ 50hz 720/640x576 576i Resolution for Emulationstation & Kodi
  • NTSC @ 60hz 640x480 Progressive (240 lines) for Retroarch
  • PAL @ 50hz 640x576 Progressive (288 lines) for Retroarch
  • Per-system custom refresh rates for Retroarch
  • Single-frame Run Ahead enabled for many 8-bit & 16-bit consoles and handhelds for Retroarch
  • Optional 480i mode for PSX and Arcade games
  • Preloaded with free 240p test suites for multiple consoles
  • Preloaded with additional stable (opt) Retroarch emulators
  • Preloaded with DOSBox and ScummVM
  • Preloaded with various 4:3 splashscreens from the RPiF download
  • Preloaded with 4:3 Ruckage's runcommand launching screens for supported systems
  • Custom 4:3 Arcade DOJ "Winners DO Use Drugs" splash screen.
  • Preloaded with MUNT Roland MT-32 MIDI emulation for DOSBox/ScummVM
  • Retroarch FCEUmm (NES) Emulator preconfigured for 4:3 horiz/vert overscan crop enabled w/ composite-direct-fbx pallete
  • Retroarch Picodrive (SMS/32X) Emulator preconfigured for 4:3 with 1X Sega Mastersystem & 1X Sega 32X resolution
  • Retroarch Gambatte (GB/GBC) emulator preset to Super Game Boy (Special 1 Pallete) mode with 2x integer scale SGB Overlay
  • Retroarch mGBA (GBA) emulator preset to Game Boy Player mode with 2x integer scale GBP Overlay
  • Other Retroarch handheld emulators preset for optimized wide display with overlay
  • Emulationstation preloaded with Ruckage's RetroPie menu icons
  • Emulationstation preloaded with Ruckage's snes-mini theme configured for 4:3
  • Custom ScummVM system artwork for snes-mini theme
  • Emulationstation systems ordered chronologically instead of alphabetically
  • Emulationstation preconfigured with best settings for analog A/V including best settings for video preview screensavers
What is Run-Ahead?
The Run Ahead feature calculates the frames as fast as possible in the background to "rollback" the action as close as possible to the input command requested.
I've enabled run-ahead on most of the 8 & 16-bit consoles and handhelds. A single frame (and using the second instance) is saved here, which dramatically improves input lag without affecting performance on a Pi3B+. More frames would require more hardware power, and may be achievable via overclocking.
lr-snes9x2010 consistent 60.0-60.2 FPS @ 60.098801hz lr-fceumm consistent 60.0-60.2 FPS @ 60.098801hz lr-beetle-pce-fast consistent 60.1-60.2 @ 60.000000hz lr-genesis-gx-plus consistent 59.9-60.2 FPS @ 59.922741hz (both genesis and sega cd) lr-picodrive consistent 59.9-60.2 FPS @ 59.922741hz (master system, game gear, and 32X) lr-gambatte consistent 60.0-60.2 FPS @ 60.098801hz (SGB2 framerate) lr-mgba consistent 59.8-60.4 FPS @ 60.002220hz (Gamecube framerate) 
Runahead Tested ~60FPS Stable:
  • Game Gear
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Master System
  • Megadrive
  • NES
  • PC Engine
  • PCE-CD
  • Sega 32X
  • Sega CD
  • SNES
Runahead Tested < 50FPS Unstable:
  • FB Neo
  • FB Alpha
  • Mame
  • N64
  • PlayStation
  • PSP
Runahead Untested:
  • Atari 800
  • Atari 2600
  • Atari 5200
  • Atari 7800
  • Atari Lynx
  • Coleco
  • Intellivision
  • MSX
What Does This NOT Have?
This doesn't have any ROMs (other than freeware test suites), BIOS files, music, screenshots, metadata, or videos concerning copywritten games. Other than the configurations and overlays, it has nothing that can't be downloaded through the repository or freeware.
Where Can I Get It?
You can download a premade image from Drive:
NOTE: Please expand your file system via Raspi-Config after your first boot, and reboot!
CRTPi4-RCA NTSC v3.4F: For Raspberry Pi4 Composite-Out @ 60hz
MD5: 7df8453c2e8029b06def7864351ec768 
CRTPi4-RCA PAL-D v3.4F: For Raspberry Pi4 Composite-Out @ 50hz
MD5: ab2bd6ab228bd6f58a22de15044fb46a 
How do I install the Arcade Configuration Pack?
These are the resolution-correct preset arcade configs for MAME/FBA including vertical games. There is roughly 38K files in there, spread out across several systems (arcade, fba, mame-libretro, and neogeo). Having these pre-installed would not allow either image to fit on the SD card used, and may not be needed for everyone. It's a fairly simple process that won't take more than a few minutes of your time.
  • Drop to shell or connect via SSH, and navigate to root (cd /)
  • Download the CRTPi-RCA_ArcadePack.zip with the command:
    sudo wget https://github.com/crtpi/CRTPi-Project/raw/masteCRTPi-RCA_ArcadePack.zip
  • Unzip and overwrite files with the command:
    sudo unzip -o -q CRTPi-RCA_ArcadePack.zip
  • Remove the zip with the command
    sudo rm CRTPi-RCA_ArcadePack.zip
  • Restore read/write access to the files you have overwritten with the command:
    sudo chmod a+rw -R /opt/retropie/configs/
How can I take full advantage of the 480i/240p Switching?
To force 480i for a system or game, you can create a '480i.txt' file inside the configuration folder of the system with a list of the file names (case insensitive, extension optional but recommended) you want to force.
If you wish to force 480i for a whole system, you can write "all" inside the '480i.txt' file.
Alternatively you can create a "240p.txt" file to force 480i to all games except for the ones inside the list.
You can read more about the script functionality here.
Example:
/opt/retropie/configs/psx/480i.txt containing "Bloody Roar 2.PBP" to force 480i for the file "Bloody Roar 2.PBP" /opt/retropie/configs/psx/480i.txt containing "all" to force 480i for all the PlayStation games. /opt/retropie/configs/ports/kodi/480i.txt containing "all" to force 480i on Kodi. 
I have X Issue! Help?
Why isn't there a Pi4 PAL version?
Try as I might, I have been unable to get a PAL signal out of the SDTV port on a Pi4. My BVM displays PAL-S and PAL-D fine, but neither will get anything but static. I don't even get a rolling B&W image, just horrible static. If you figure out a way, let me know!
I only have like 500mb of free space on my XXgb SD card!
You need to expand your file system via Raspi-Config. Follow these steps.
I want to switch back to lr-mupen64plus!
  • When launching an n64 game, mash buttons on the controller until the runcommand window comes up.
  • Select on "1 Set default emulator for n64" and choose "lr-mupen64plus"
  • Then "Q Exit (without launching)"
  • Launch the game again -- it will launch in the chosen emulator at the proper resolution
What A/V cable should I use for 3.5mm Composite?
I recommend the Zune A/V cable or XBOX 360E cable, you can find them on eBay and Amazon.
Samba Share won't work after I set up Wi-Fi!
Samba share service starts on boot, pending that a network is available. Configure your Wi-Fi then reboot first, and if that doesn't fix it then go into Retropie Setup > Configuration/Tools > Samba > Install Samba. Once it's complete, reboot and it should be golden.
USB-Romservice and/or Retropie-Mount don't work!
Follow this guide, but follow these steps before plugging in your thumb drive:
  • Go to Retropie-Setup
  • Update retropie install script
  • Go to Manage Packages -> Optional Packages
  • Scroll all the way down to usbromservice
  • Uninstall usbromservice
  • Install it again from Binary
  • Once finished, choose Configuration, then Enable USB Romservice
  • Reboot, and wait for it to fully boot in to ES
  • Plug in USB stick (has to be FAT32) and WAIT A LONG TIME (if your stick has a light, wait for it to stop flashing)
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