Friday, February 24, 2012

Death Star Economics [Bryan]

Would the death star be economically feasible? Kevin Drum says yes:

There's been a lot of loose talk about the Death Star lately. I want to put it into a bit of perspective.

As background, some students at Lehigh University have estimated that it would be a very expensive project. The steel alone, assuming the Death Star's mass/volume ratio is about the same as an aircraft carrier, comes to $852 quadrillion, or 13,000 times the world's GDP. Is this affordable?

Let's sharpen our pencils. For starters, this number is too low. Using the same aircraft carrier metric they did, I figure that the price tag on the latest and greatest Ford-class supercarrier is about 100x the cost of the raw steel that goes into it. If the Death Star is similar, its final cost would be about 1.3 million times the world's GDP.

But there's more. Star Wars may have taken place "a long time ago," but the technology of the Star Wars universe is well in our future. How far into our future? Well, Star Trek is about 300 years in our future, and the technology of Star Wars is obviously well beyond that. Let's call it 500 years. What will the world's GDP be in the year 2500? Answer: assuming a modest 2% real growth rate, it will be about 20,000 times higher than today. So we can figure that the average world in the Star Wars universe is about 20,000x richer than present-day Earth, which means the Death Star would cost about 65x the average world's GDP.

However, the original Death Star took a couple of decades to build. So its annual budget is something on the order of 3x the average world's GDP.

But how big is the Republic/Empire? There's probably a canonical figure somewhere, but I don't know where. So I'll just pull a number out of my ass based on the apparent size of the Old Senate, and figure a bare minimum of 10,000 planets. That means the Death Star requires .03% of the GDP of each planet in the Republic/Empire annually. By comparison, this is the equivalent of about $5 billion per year in the current-day United States.

In other words, not only is the Death Star affordable, it's not even a big deal.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tim vs. Jeremy [Bryan]

So, apparently the new sports crush is New York Knick point guard Jeremy Lin. I can't say I'm not also caught up in the hype: from what I have seen, Lin is great fun to watch and cheer for. Of course, we now get the inevitable comparisons to Tim Tebow. I have nothing against Tebow. He seems like a decent kid. There is no real comparison, though, in their respective Cinderella stories. This sums it up:

Tim Tebow’s commercials and personal branding speak about how everyone has always doubted him, but in reality, he’s has every privilege and advantage. He was home-schooled but was still allowed to play Florida high school sports. He was allowed to play in a college spread offense built around his rather unique skill set. He was drafted in the first round even though many scouts saw him as a mid- to high-round project. He is treated like an All-American superstar even without the game to back it up....Tim Tebow had the benefit of the doubt. Jeremy Lin was just doubted.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Life according to Stephen [Bryan]

Our son, Stephen, seems to have entered the stage of perfect cuteness. Not a day goes by when he doesn't say something clever. And his hair is just a curly mess of wonderful blond tangles. We can't bring ourselves to cut it.

Some recent stories:

Ellie went in after Stephen's nap to find that he had gotten out his old white diapers and spread them all across the floor of his bedroom. Ellie, shocked at the mess, asked him what he'd been doing. "It's snow, Mom," he said.

We were eating dinner the other night. Conversation was lagging a bit. Suddenly, Stephen pipes up, "Mom, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" We're not sure where he got that, but it was hilarious to be asked that by a two-year-old. We concluded that, no, we probably weren't thinking what he was thinking.

I was in the bathroom today getting ready. Stephen marches in and points at the shower. "What's that, Dadda?" he asks. "Um, that's the shower, buddy." I reply. He says, matter-of-factly, "That's where it rains." True, Stephen, true.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Ode to underground London [Bryan]

Sorry about the lack of posting lately -- still trying to navigate my new identity.

Anyway, a mesmerizing video below of the London Tube. For some reason, I love to watch people in transit. It is always interesting to think about who they are and where they are going. Also, there is some great footage of a guy in a bow tie.

Oyster Hunt from Garreth Carter on Vimeo.