Update: Added in travel time of Concorde at end of the post.
Columbus’ first trip
The 1492 trip by Christopher Columbus took two years of lobbying before the king and queen of Spain approved 2 million Spanish maravedis to fund the trip. A professor has calculated that would be comparable to about US$1,000,000 today.
The cost seems low to me. I’ll look at that more later.
Crew size was 87 according to this article. The accountant in me is driven to calculate the cost per crewman. That would give an average cost of $11,494. I’ll round that to $11,500 and ignore any adjustment for several crew members who died on the trip.
His trip took two months, nine days, which I calculate at 70 days (30+31+9).
10/15/17 – Behind the Black – China’s first test space station, Tiangong-1, is out-of-control – The Chinese space agency said they have lost control over the “Heavenly Palace” space station. Its orbit is decaying and it will likely reenter the atmosphere and burn up in the next several months. Most of the station will burn, but there will likely be chunks as large as 200 pounds hit the ground.
Fun articles on technology change that caught my interest over the last few months:
Yes, your color printer may very well be marking every printed page as belonging to you
Not only are land lines disappearing, growing number of people won’t answer the doorbell unless you text first
Dropping oil prices are a worry for central bankers, even as that saves consumers bunches of money
Amazon is developing its own delivery system
IBM has fewer employees in the US than in India
Google drew a multi-billion dollar fine from the EU
6/7/17 – BBC – Why printers add secret tracking dots – A large portion of color laser printers add tiny yellow dots to the page in order to allow tracking of which specific printer was used to print a specific page.
This is handy for criminal or espionage investigations. A particular leaking case is in the news, with the perpetrator having been found using microdots.
Might be handy for tracking down whistle blowers.
The espionage angle isn’t of interest to anyone reading my blog.
If you every want to keep something you print really private, you might want to pay attention.
One article pondering how the planned super-heavy lift rocket from SpaceX will open up space travel like the DC-3 did for air travel. The third reuse of a Falcon 9 booster and the 18th recovery of a booster. Also, three articles on SpaceX’s plans for Mars colonization:
In a major speech, Mr. Musk revealed the revised plans for SpaceX’s journey to Mars. The revision I see is a slightly scaled-down interplanetary spacecraft which can be multipurposed for lunar activity, resupplying ISS, or any other mission requiring heavy lift.
The vehicle will have 31 engines instead of the 47 planned a year ago. It will still lift 150 tons into low earth orbit.
Key concepts will be reusability of lift vehicles and in-orbit refueling to get vehicles ready for the interplanetary trip. Concept will be capsules can land vertically and will be able to take off without crew input.
Interplanetary capsule will be designed to have 100 person capacity and will have areas on board for entertainment.
The first trips to Mars could be in 2022 or more likely delayed until 2024. That is only 5 or 7 years from now.
Outlines of the Mars colonization plan are in line with what I’ve read before.
Several factors led to the end of rigid airships. The disaster took out half of the Zeppelin fleet, the U.S. blocked export of helium so the German company had no choice but to use (and would have continued using) explosive hydrogen, fixed wing aircraft were emerging as an alternative (specifically the then-cutting edge DC-3), Zeppelin travel was more expensive than ocean liners, and the disaster destroyed public confidence in the Zeppelins.
Check out the full article for more details.
According to the article, here are some tidbits on the cost of travel to cross the Atlantic at the time on the luxurious, faster airships and slower cruise ships:
The sad tale of Ross Ulbricht and his on-line drug bazaar called Silk Road is a good study of the outer limits of how far rationalization can carry a person.
It is also a frightening illustration of Jeremiah 17:9. From the New International Version, ponder:
The heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Considering the tale of Silk Road is useful for accountants wanting to learn about the outer fringe of the internet and he investigative power of the federal government, believers who would like an illustration of the frightening level of deceit that lives in the human heart, and anyone else wanting to learn more about the dark worlds that normal people will never see.
Several recent articles provide more background on Bitcoin and other blockchain tools. For your daily brain stretching:
Blockchain as a possible tool for fast and cheap international payments
China is working to restrict blockchain transactions
Central banks ponder issuing of their own virtual currencies
Tax status of blockchain transactions and the IRS is out fishing for tax evaders
Description of blockchain as being the internet of money, comparable to how the internet moves and stores information
8/28/17 – Journal of Accountancy – Blockchain opens new era for cross-border payments– Moving money from one country to another is time-consuming and costly. There are fees at both ends. It takes several days for the money to arrive. An error in one digit of the routing or account information means the transfer will go astray and take more time and money to locate.
Blockchain offers the opportunity to make international transfers near immediate and at a fraction of the cost.
For an illustration, picture a company paying international vendors. Or an international worker sending part of his paycheck back to his parents in his home country. Or a mission organization moving funds to its many field offices.
Some background on the MQ-9 Reaper, an upgrade to the MQ-1 Predator. Also, France has armed the Reapers it has deployed in Africa.
9/20/17 – Strategy Page – Counter-Terrorism: Up Close and Constantly– France has 6 U.S. made MQ-9 Reapers in its inventory. Five of them are Niger, used for counterterrorism operations in surrounding countries. The remaining one is in France, used for training. Six more are on order.
To improve capabilities, France started loading the MQ-9s with Hellfire missiles. Their Tiger helicopter gunships already use that missile, so they were in stock and the French munitions maintainers already knew how to load and handle them.
Companies and industries that can’t keep up with changes in technology or demographics or the internet are getting hit hard.
A few more hits to the old way of doing things:
collapsing price for taxi medallions
tricks to hide low TV audiences; gaming the ratings
more closures of Sears stores
Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy protection
The wide use of Uber and Lyft has affected the taxi industry. As one measure of the technological disruption, consider the price of a taxi medallion in New York. One cannot operate a taxi there without a medallion.
There is apparently a thriving business, or at least there used to be a thriving business, in buying a medallion and then renting it out to someone who wanted to drive a taxi.
The market for medallions has collapsed. Consider the following graph by Mark Perry, described in a tweet on 7/6/17.
Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.
Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come
7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.
Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.
The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.