Friday, December 31, 2021


It's 2022. Another year has come and gone.

DowneastBlog wishes all its reades of good will the very best for the coming year! Support each other and shy away from negative people. Above all, never stop fighting for what is good and decent!


Saturday, December 25, 2021


Today, on Christmas Day 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope, purported to be a hundred times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope, was launched atop an Ariane 5 rocket from ESA's base in Kourou, French Guyana, towards its destination, the Lagrangepoint L2. To view the graphics unimpeded by all my stuff and links to the right, simply click on each pic:

It will now have its designers, its financiers and every space enthousiast sitting on edge as it travels towards L2...a 29-day journey during which much can go wrong!

Once there it is time for commissioning the JWST:

More info here.



Friday, December 24, 2021


To all my readers of good will, a heartfelt Merry Christmas!

Adorazioni dei pastori (1485), in the Cappella Sassetti in Florence's Basilici di Santa Trinita


Sunday, December 19, 2021


Last week the Parker Solar Probe was hurtling though the Sun's corona at speeds sometimes approaching 100 miles per second:

Taking into account how solar radiation can potentially wreak havoc to the ISS's electronics when it is, after all, 150 million kilometers distant, how can the Parker Solar Probe even be functioning, let alone relay back these fascinating images, when it has now come as close as 8 million kilometers? Here are some answers:


Saturday, December 04, 2021


Well, unveil...

Neutron, the successor to Rocket Lab's Electron was announced in March already, but on 2 DEC the company lifted the veil on the new launch vehicle's revolutionary characteristics:

Neutron will be a medium-lift two-stage launch vehicle, capable of bringing up to 8 tonnes (17,600 lb) in LEO in a reusable configuration (15 tonnes when the first stage is expended). That's quite a jump from Electron's typical payload of around 300 kilograms. Unlike competitor SpaceX's Falcon 9, the 40m tall Neutron will be built from carbon composites, and use LOX and liquid methane propellant for its new Archimedes engine (which will be mainly 3D-printed).

The rocket's revised design features a tapered shape with a maximum diameter of 7 m (23 ft), standing on four fixed landing legs. Rocket Lab abandoned plans for landing Neutron on a floating platform, instead opting for a return-to-launch-site reusability profile instead. There will be no conventional payload fairing to be jettisoned and recovered at sea, but instead the fairing will be integrated into the vehicle and open like the petals of a flower to release the second stage and payload. While the cheap second stage will be lost, the first stage lands back on earth. Neutron will be launched from MARS, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, on Virginia's eastern coast.Rocket Lab is planning for the first launch to take place no earlier than 2024.

One thing is crystal-clear: Space has become Big Business!


Friday, November 26, 2021


Via Tim Dodd, the "Everyday Astronaut"!

It is but a small booklet, but it is one of the prized possessions in my library: "Three Paces beyond the Horizon". Many years ago, as a High School student having to write an essay about the USSR, I simply wrote the Embassy in Brussels for material and true enough, they sent me a stack of books and pamplets dealing on a wide range of topics - among them "Three Paces...":

It jibes with Mr Dodd's brilliant video. Never underestimate Russian engineering!


Sunday, November 21, 2021


If you are White and happened to grow up in a stable family, in case you didn't know it yet: you're a White Supremacist!


Saturday, November 20, 2021


Probably nobody but Europe's muslims are more pleased with all the bruhaha surrounding the covid pandemic, since it allows them to inch forward with their efforts to islamize the continent.

In September, in the major German city of Cologne a 2-year "pilot" project was started whereby Cologne's mosques - about 35 - are now permitted to broadcast the adhan on Fridays five times a day. Count on a poco cunt like Mayor Henriette Reeker to have made this possible, "as a sign of mutual respect".

That's Cologne's Diyanet-run main mosque. The monstrosity looks like a hoplite helmet to me, and the minarets like things to stab. Remember what Erdogan said back in 1998:

"The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…"

The next important European city to follow suit with this self-destroying madness was Utrecht in The Netherlands, where a large majority in the Town Council voted in favor of a motion by islamic party Denk to allow muslim women wanting to join police to don the hijab:

Europe, at least Western Europe, is committing suicide as we speak.


Sunday, November 07, 2021


So after 16 years at the helm of Germany, Angela Merkel has left office, giving the reins to Olaf Scholz of the SPD, the German socialists.

For those not following German politics too closely, it would seem that Merkel, during her time as Bundeskanzlerin, proved to be an efficient steward of the German economic locomotive. And her CDU being politically centrist - at least that being the perception - neither foreign nor domestic policies seemed to lean too far to either the left or the right.

However, the following analysis by the Brussels Report's Pieter Cleppe proves that there is more than meets the eye... and it's not exactly flattering for "das Maedchen":


"When Germany gave up its D-Mark, there was a very clear quid pro quo: whenever governments in the Eurozone would get into trouble, they would not be able to count on being bailed out by taxpayers from other countries.

In practice, that’s of course not how things went. For years already before the Eurozone bailout machinery was created in 2010, the European Central Bank had been fueling easy money to banks in Eurozone member states that would have never been able to enjoy the low interest rates offered by the ECB to obtain euro funding.

Banks in Italy, for example, used that money to buy Italian government bonds, which in turn drove down Italy’s borrowing rates. There was little incentive left for governments in excessively indebted member states like Italy or Belgium to implement the necessary structural reforms to generate tax revenue to finance government spending. Eurozone membership was sufficient to keep those bloated welfare states afloat. Similar dynamics were at play all across the Eurozone, long before Greece, one of the Eurozone governments that were being showered with easy money, was suddenly no longer able to refinance its debt. Others, like Spain and Ireland, witnessed a housing bubble and bust, caused by easy ECB cash that had been pumped by local banks into the real estate market, in turn saddling some of these local banks with excessive debt, with the ensuing financial instability ultimately forcing the Irish and Spanish government to request a Eurozone bailout.

The pressure had been building for a while until finally, in early 2010, the Greek sovereign debt crisis erupted, which was followed by three fiscal bailouts of Greece, as well as bailouts of Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and Spain. Others, like indeed Italy and Belgium, were being bailed out by the ECB.

The German establishment, with Angela Merkel at the helm, could have blocked bailouts, but opted not to do so, despite some severe misgivings, witnessed by a number of high profile Bundesbank resignations in 2011. Apart from endorsing bailouts, Merkel also provided tacit support to the ECB to do “whatever it takes” to keep the shaky monetary union alive."


"...Most notable is Merkel’s big change of heart over energy policy. A trained physicist, she has always been a supporter of nuclear power, until she got her government to decide to phase out nuclear power, right after the public turned against it following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March of 2011. This despite some more independent thinking greens considering this to be the ultimate stress-test for nuclear.

The result of these policies are that Germany is being plagued by sky-high energy prices for households. Also from the perspective to cut CO2 emissions, Merkel’s approach hasn’t exactly been a great success, given the persistent role of coal in Germany’s energy mix, which is apparently only possible to change by means of importing more Russian gas via the controversial new Nord Stream 2 gas pipe line between Russia and Germany."


"...As mentioned, Germany’s economy did fairly well during Merkel’s time in office. However, the reasons for that were unrelated to Merkel. For one, there were the courageous but unpopular “Agenda 2010” labour market reforms implemented by her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. His policies managed to really restore Unit labour cost competitiveness had really by the end of 2005, when Merkel became Chancellor, and have remained stable since. This was also due to responsible wage restraint that was agreed between employers and employees.

Secondly, as a result of the ECB’s expansionist monetary policies, intended to keep interest rates as well as the euro exchange rate low, the German export sector profited from an exchange rate that was artificially weak. This helped exporters, but did hurt importers and consumers – a cost that may well be three times as big as compared to the benefits for exporters.

Under Merkel, a minimum wage was introduced, increasing the cost for employers to create jobs and reducing the flexibility that was possible under the system of sectoral agreements, while no proper reform of the pension system was undertaken – despite the massive ageing challenges the welfare state faces. Annual top-ups needed for the state pension system may well reach “well above €100bn by 2031”, compared with €67.8bn in 2018...."


"...Despite being seen as the “leader of the EU”, Merkel hasn’t made a lot of friends in the European Union. Her Eurozone bailout policies contributed to anger in the North over the request to pay for transfer as well as anger in the South over the conditions linked to those transfers. Both dynamics resulted in greater electoral support for anti-establishment parties.

Also her handling of Central and Eastern Europe leaves much to be desired for. Despite warnings from the French Interior Minister, Merkel’s government opted to push ahead with outvoting Eastern European countries and impose “mandatory refugee quotas” at the EU level in 2015..."


"...Much has been said over Merkel’s handling over the 2015-2016 migration crisis. To be fair, the “gates of Europe” were wide open long before Merkel made the assertion “Wir schaffen das“, meaning “we can manage this”, going against many in her own party.

The episode reveals another spectacular and panicky u-turn by Merkel. In August 2015, her government was using television adverts to warn people in Albania not to come to Germany as their chances of getting asylum were close to zero. And then, that same month, her government decided to suspend the so-called Dublin rules. This meant that it would stop returning Syrian asylum seekers to their first port of entry in the EU. Suddenly, the “hard line” vanished.

Merkel made the assertion “Wir schaffen das“, meaning “we can manage this”, going against many in her own party. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that a few months earlier Merkel had been sharply criticised for her insensitive response to a sobbing Palestinian refugee girl who begged to be allowed to stay in Germany.

Perhaps her approach after that of taking selfies with refugees to humanise them deserved praise, but the overall effect of her policy was not positive. Again, the suspension of the Dublin rules wasn’t the key factor leading to the great influx, which really began in March 2015. More important was Europe’s failure to close the Balkan route. This only happened in March 2016, which stopped the flow from people from Turkey to Greece and led to a large drop in drownings-at-sea. Many people, both genuine refugees and others, no longer tried to cross from Turkey, which had given shelter to more than 3.5 million refugees..."


"...Last but not least, Merkel also took steps away from Germany’s transatlantic foreign policy attitudes.

In a profile of Merkel, the Wall Street Journal notes:

“As she is preparing to leave office after her fourth term—having interacted with four U.S. presidents—she has overseen a dramatic increase of her country’s economic dependence on China, pushed through a far-reaching energy deal with Russia, joined France in challenging U.S. political influence in Europe and rejected American demands in areas such as economic policy and Berlin’s openness to Chinese technology(…)

The shift also has roots in the chancellor’s changing views. As a leader, Ms. Merkel gradually became disillusioned with the U.S., a development triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, which she blamed in part on America’s loose financial regulation. Since then, she developed a fascination with China that mixed concern about its totalitarian drift with admiration at its rapid growth and technological progress, according to aides, confidants and her own statements.”

Surely, Merkel is merely following trade flows, which happen to have increased with China, one could object. Then Merkel did actively override concerns of other EU governments on signing an EU investment pact with China at the end of last year, when Germany was chairing the EU Council and in this capacity in the driving seat.

One could also retort that the U.S. are the ones to have distances themselves from Europe and Germany, most certainly under Trump. Then, the WSJ describes how it is “emblematic of the cooling U.S.-German relationship” that “Angela Merkel declined the offer of being Joe Biden’s first call as president. She would be at her cottage, gardening”.

This indicates how it goes deeper than an aversion of Trump....

If after this damning analysis, you still are of the opinion that Frau Merkel was an efficient Bundeskanzlerin who did well for her country, you might want to consider that she was actually VERY LUCKY that her 'subjects' were Germans. If Germany still gives the impression that its economic powerhouse runs smoothly - it's NOT because of Merkels policies but because of the average German, who staunchly wakes up every morning and marches to his or her job. There is no social unrest in Germany like in France (les gilets jaunes), and yet large swaths of the population are worse off than their French counterparts and have every reason to air their concerns loudly. Incredibly, home ownership is the lowest in the entire EU. Scores of employees have to make ends meet with pitiful wages - a LIDL or ALDI caissière sometimes earning as little as 600EUR (or less!) a month. Truck drivers and their handlers delivering goods to my company regularly prove to be far into their sixties - and I assure you that it's hard work. People of that age doing backbreaking work are basically nowhere to be seen in Belgium. But in Germany, it's normal. When about five years ago the age to be eligible for pension was raised to 67 overnight, Germans did not give a peep. In France, Italy or even Belgium it might have caused a revolution. Any success das Maedchen has had in keeping the German locomotive going can be attributed directly to a staunch workforce still adhering to a no questions asked, 'Befehl ist Befehl' spirit.

But perhaps the shine of the Merkel era will lose its brightness sooner than expected. Angela 'Wir schaffen das' Merkel imported close to two million 'refugees'. However, violent welfare seekers from the Hindu Kush are another matter than Belgians arriving in Great Britain in 1914. The BKA (Bundeskriminalamt) just released its annual report and the conclusions are appalling. Far from importing rocket scientists and brain surgeons in 2015 and the years since, Germany let in specialist in completely different disciplines:


Sunday, October 03, 2021


Arthur Williams is a former Royal Marine who lost the use of his legs in an accident, took up flying, and is now a successful TV reporter! To get a taste of his work, watch this fascinating video:

As Winston once said: "Never, never, never give up!".


Saturday, September 11, 2021


I've read a lot of "Never forgets" today.

I've barely read "Never forgives".

Over here at DowneastBlog we will never forget, never forgive and we will never be shy to squarely put the blame where it lies:

After 9/11, in an incomprehensible state of collective delusion the West, which should right away have enforced a ban on muslim immigration, rolled out the red carpet for them instead.

Here we are, twenty years later, with the outcome of the Bush Doctrine for 50 per cent a failure and for the other 50 per cent still in doubt, with truly MASSIVE inroads of islam in our countries, no solution in sight, and plenty of fucking TRAITORS in our midst. As a stark reminder of how much the rot has set in at the highest level, consider this disgraceful speech by Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

This... PIG, who was more concerned about 'White Rage' than ensuring the withdrawal from AFG didn't turn into a humiliating rout, manages to NOT disclose who those "They, they, they, they, they" are. What an appalling disgrace for not calling the perpetrators for what they were, ISLAMIC TERRORISTS. The scoundrel should be fired, pronto!

I don't know how it is with you, but I will fight to the death against the islamic takeover of our countries. Islam is a cancer. You either destroy cancer, be it by chemotherapy or radiation or cutting it away... or it destroys you.

I should know.

Save a prayer for the innocent victims of the barbaric death cult that is islam.


Monday, September 06, 2021


Over at The Spectator, a compelling article by Lionel Shriver:

"...In Britain, Migration Watch released two reports this summer whose key findings I will try to present as succinctly and neutrally as possible. In the past 20 years, foreign-born residents of the UK have doubled to nine million, going from 8 per cent to 14 per cent of the population. In tandem, the white British proportion of the population has fallen from 89 per cent to 79 per cent, while ethnic minorities have grown from 10 per cent to 21 per cent. Since 2001, 84 per cent of UK population growth has been due to immigrants and their children, rising to 90 per cent since 2017 — the majority non-EU.

More than a third of UK births now involve at least one foreign-born parent; in parts of London, 80 per cent of births are to foreign--born mothers. Indeed, non-UK nationals are disproportionately concentrated in British cities. The majorities of London, Slough, Leicester and Luton have an ethnic minority background. About half the births in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Cambridge are to foreign mothers.

Unsurprisingly, then, a third of British school children are already from ethnic minorities; in 20 years, ethnic-minority children will constitute more than half the students in state schools. As of 2018, 90 per cent of immigrants were under 45. That means the ethnic transformation of the UK, whose white population is far older, is destined rapidly to accelerate.

Even delivering those dry statistics feels dangerous. As for their implications, none of you readers is supposed to care. In particular, white Britons who greet those figures with anything short of delight know perfectly well to keep their traps shut. The lineages of white Britons in their homeland commonly go back hundreds of years. Yet for the country’s original inhabitants to confront becoming a minority in the UK (perhaps in the 2060s) with any hint of mournfulness, much less consternation, is now racist and beyond the pale. I submit: that proscription is socially and even biologically unnatural.

We are a political and territorial species. Although Pollyannas push us to regard ourselves as members of one big happy human family, we compulsively clump into groups. These groups claim territory and, under normal circumstances, defend it. For westerners to passively accept and even abet incursions by foreigners so massive that the native-born are effectively surrendering their territory without a shot fired is biologically perverse...

If only London was overrun with Americans instead. If only.


Sunday, September 05, 2021


Alfred de Breanski Sr. was a British landscape painter who made a name for himself with exquisite renderings of rural England, Scotland and Wales. Influenced by John Constable. He was born in 1852 in Greenwich, England, and went on to exhibit his works at the Royal Academy in London from 1872 until 1918.

Banks of Arrochar

The Borrowdale Pass from Derwent Water

As good as it is, imho not his best work yet, but I include it since it brings memories back from my all too short summer holiday in July in "the Heart of Borrowdale". I stayed in Scafell Hotell, whence I climbed Great Gable.


Saturday, September 04, 2021


Realizing we are far less than a speck in an infathomably large universe helps us to put some things in perspective.

Good night.


Sunday, August 29, 2021


I'm very sorry for being AWOL for so long, but it's been a rather rough couple of months lately. Health is status quo though.

Copley was an Anglo-American painter, a Boston, Massachusetts native, who already had a well-established reputation in New England when he moved to England in 1774, never to return (not that he didn't want to). With the work below, "The Death of the Earl of Chatham" (1781, oil on canvas), he made his name as a history painter.

The Earl of Chatham was William Pitt The Elder, Prime Minister of Britain in the middle of the eighteenth century, and the architect of Britain's victory in the Seven Years War (1757-1763). Copley's paiting evokes the moment right after Pitt's collapse on 7 April 1778, during a debate in the House of Lords on the American War of Independence. The painting's title is a misnomer though, as Pitt died over a month later in his home in Hayes, Kent.


Monday, May 31, 2021


DowneastBlog wishes its American readers a Happy Memorial Day!

I have referred to these brave men before, but I feel compelled to honor them again: Pfc. Thomas Tucker, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, and Spc. David Babineau.

You can argue that these men did not fight for our freedom, that the US Army had no business in Iraq. I don't agree. For better or for worse, the US is the world's policeman. Personally, I think it's the former... I shiver at the thought that China would fulfill that role, e.g.

The US Armed Forces execute the strategy the government decides upon to 'act' as that policeman. Just like policemen sometimes die in the line of fire, it is inevitable that the chosen strategy, whether good or bad, will result in losses: KIA, WIA, MIA... The losses on that fateful day in 2006 involved a.o. Tucker, Menchaca and Babineau. Remember them and pray for them also. It's a given that their relatives and loved ones still suffer.


Sunday, May 30, 2021


In the West, we have been told ad nauseam by our Moral Betters that Christianity is anti-Science.

Nothing is further from the truth, and as time goes by, more and more authors and historians discover the vast contributions made by the Christian faith to the exact sciences. A good book to start with re this topic is Freely's "Before Galileo".

The overview offered by The National Catholic Register's Angelo Stagnaro lists a number of individuals, both Men of the Cloth and catholic laymen, which may surprise you...

Be sure to check out No. 3, Blessed Ramon Llull.


Monday, May 24, 2021


I have been keenly aware of the inroads leftist shenanigans have made into the US military, so the following woke nonsense should not have come as a surprise.

Except they did. "The Calling" is a series of five animations centering on the paths that led the following individuals to join the Army:

Let's check out the Emma animation. Watch and weep.

Holy shit. And I thought the 70s campaign "The Army wants to join you" was bad.

Per Senator Ted Cruz, a comparison between this woke madness and a Russian Army recruitment video:

Apart from the ludicrous, warm and fluffy non-content, there's something else that's striking in the 5 'The Calling' animations. Can you see it?

Because last time I checked, the US was still a majority White country, although granted, democrappic politicians are doing their damnedest best to end this sorry state of affairs ASAP.

Well, dunno if you noticed it or not, but the makers of 'The Calling' seem to have completely overlooked an interesting recruitment reservoir i.e. young White Caucasian males. Please out there, can someone tell 'em? BEHOLD however!!! Rumour has it that the grand majority of said males are still heterosexual, so if they belatedly realize there's still this as yet untapped manpower reservoir, they should proceed to enlist them with the utmost caution.


Saturday, May 22, 2021


From the BBC documentary "When Britain ruled the skies", on the astounding performance of the British aeronautical industry in churning out breathtaking an innovative aircraft in the first decades of the Cold War:

The same theme is explored in Empire of the Clouds, an excellent book by James Hamilton-Paterson. Highly recommended!


Sunday, May 16, 2021


OTD, or rather, On This Night in 1943, 19 Lancasters under the command of Wing Commander Guy Gibson took off from RAF Scampton to attack several Ruhr dams which were crucial for hydro-electric power. It was the beginning of Operation Chastise;

Check out this exerpt from the 1955 movie The Dambusters:


Saturday, May 15, 2021


76 years after the concentration camps were discovered and the ghastly extermination of Jews by the nazis became visible for the world to see...

... on Europe's streets calls are heard again to kill the Jews. In Brussels: The Netherlands: London:

Our politicans are insane, LITTERALLY INSANE, for having let in and continue to do so, this ghastly death cult known as 'islam'.

This will not end well!


Sunday, May 09, 2021


I am a firm believer in humanity as a multi-planet species. It is our destiny to explore new horizons. With the Red Planet being the obvious choice as the first stepping stone in that lofty endeavour, and humans setting foot on Mars now becoming increasingly likely within the next twenty years, the following video sheds some light on what the first three decades there might look like:


Saturday, May 01, 2021

MAY 2ND, 2021.

Ten years ago to the day, my father died:

On Monday, May 2nd, at about 22.05, my father passed away after almost one month on Intensive Care.

He was 77. He had some little troubles typically connected with his age, but was otherwise a healthy person. Four days before he was admitted to the hospital, he participated in the annual dinner event of his 'copains' at the Institut Technique in Ath, and was by all accounts the healthiest and most able of the group. Four days later he was on Intensive Care, only to leave it when he was not among the living anymore....

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." ~ Psalm 23:4 ~

It's been ten years dad, but we think of you every single day.

Rest in peace, dear pa.



Bad English with Time Stood Still. Album Backlash (1991).

Short lived glam metal band which formed in LA in 1987 around three former The Babys members, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, singer John Waite and bassist Ricky Phillips.

M83 with Midnight City. From the 2011 album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.

French electronic band, formed in 1999 in Antibes. Currently based in LA.

Goede nacht.


Saturday, April 24, 2021


Ever heard of Norman?:

"TAE Technologies, the California, USA-based fusion energy technology company, has announced that its proprietary beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) plasma generator has produced stable plasma at over 50 million degrees Celsius. The milestone has helped the company raise USD280 million in additional funding. Norman - TAE's USD150 million National Laboratory-scale device named after company founder, the late Norman Rostoker - was unveiled in May 2017 and reached first plasma in June of that year. The device achieved the latest milestone as part of a "well-choreographed sequence of campaigns" consisting of over 25,000 fully-integrated fusion reactor core experiments. These experiments were optimised with the most advanced computing processes available, including machine learning from an ongoing collaboration with Google (which produced the Optometrist Algorithm) and processing power from the US Department of Energy's INCITE programme that leverages exascale-level computing. Plasma must be hot enough to enable sufficiently forceful collisions to cause fusion and sustain itself long enough to harness the power at will. These are known as the 'hot enough' and 'long enough' milestone. TAE said it had proved the 'long enough' component in 2015, after more than 100,000 experiments. A year later, the company began building Norman, its fifth-generation device, to further test plasma temperature increases in pursuit of 'hot enough'. TAE said Norman nearly doubled its intended goals over an 18-month testing regime and has now demonstrated consistent performance of reaching 50+ million degrees Celsius, replicated over many hundreds of testing cycles - all in a compact machine that has very attractive economics when scaled up to a full power plant. With this most recent milestone, TAE has now unlocked the 'hot enough' conditions needed to scale to a reactor level performance. TAE's approach to fusion combines advanced accelerator and plasma physics, and uses abundant, non-radioactive hydrogenboron (p-B11) as a fuel source. The proprietary magnetic beam-driven FRC technology injects high-energy hydrogen atoms into the plasma to make the system more stable and better confined. This solution is compact and energy efficient, TAE says. The company said the latest milestone "confirms a key differentiator of TAE's patented technology: a positive relationship between plasma confinement and reactor temperature, meaning that the company's compact linear configuration improves plasma confinement as temperatures rise. By generating such stable high-temperature plasmas, TAE has now validated that the company's unique approach can scale to the conditions necessary for an economically viable commercial fusion power plant by the end of the decade..."

A fusion reactor based on field-reversed configuration (FRC) confines the plasma within closed magnetic field lines, thus dispensing with a tokamak's central penetration. In an FRC fusion reactor, the plasma has the form of a self-stable torus, not unlike a smoke ring:

One thing is for certain, TAE Technologies is not lacking in ambition, nor confidence:

Do check out this short TAE video, featuring CEO Michl Binderbauer:


Saturday, April 03, 2021


DowneastBlog wishes all its readers of good will a Happy Easter!!!

"I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." - John, 11:25-26



Red Hot Chili Peppers with Scar Tissue. Album Californication (1999).

RHCP formed in 1983 in LA, but Anthony Kiedis and Flea (real name Michael Peter Balzary) are the only original members left.

Moby with Porcelain. From the 1999 album Play.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't remember Moby's got any hits since Hotel !2005).



Sunday, March 28, 2021


Very interesting video about Nazi Germany's revolutionary Type XXI U-Boat, of which, luckily, only about 4 entered service.

When all this corona shit is over, I really have to get to Bremen one day to visit the Wilhelm Bauer!



Saturday, March 20, 2021


America with Sister Golden Hair. Album Hearts (1975).

America has the distinction of being a genuinely American band formed in the UK, in London to be precise (in 1970), since its founding members, Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley, were all sons of US Air Force personnel stationed at nearby RAF South Ruislip.

T. Rex with Hot Love. Released as a standalone single in 1971.

English glam rock band T-Rex, originally Tyrannosaurus Rex, was formed in 1967 by singer/songwriter and guitarist Marc Bolan and had its heyday between 1970 and 1973. Bolan died in a car crash in 1977, and because he was also T. Rex's sole composer and writer, it meant the end of the band.

Goede nacht.


Sunday, March 14, 2021


Since the BLM virus has crossed the Atlantic, big (Western) European cities have had their share of mayhem caused by this scum. Yesterday, Saturday 13 March, it was Lièges turn:

Yes, we definitely need more immigration!


Sunday, February 21, 2021


William McGregor Paxton was an American painter of the Boston School and instructor. He co-founded The Guild of Boston Artists.

The new necklace (1910).

The figurine (1921).

Good night.


Saturday, February 20, 2021


Tame Impala with Borderline. From the album The Slow Rush (2020), although it had been released as a single in 2019.

Actually a one-man psycedelic music project around multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, although for live performances he's accompanied by for musicians, a.o. Jay Watson (synthesiser, vocals, guitar) and Cam Avery (bass guitar, vocals).

Hans Zimmer's Don't let me leave, Murph. From the soundtrack of the movie Interstellar (2014).

Seems to me, Zimmer only came to prominence after repeated collaboration with Christopher Nolan, but actually he has already composed music for about 150 movies!

Sorry for the light blogging. 2021 has been tough as nails so far. Still on chemo, every four weeks and no end in sight - the Doctor told me it's gonna be until the next outbreak, after which another therapy yet will be tried. Biz has also been very, very rough. But quitting ain't no option.

Good night. Tim, Jan, Koen, if you're reading this, my best to you!


Sunday, February 07, 2021


The Death of Motherhood:

As we speak, the fertility of autochton women in Belgium is hitting rock bottom. A couple of times in the past, I have published here scans of my old high school's quarterly bulletin, which invariably lists, on its last pages, the deceased and the newborns among alumni. For years the ratio was about 12/13/14 departed vs 2, 3 or 4 births.

In the latest bulletin, NO mention was made of births. Flemings, autochton Flemings at least, are a dying species.

The state broadcaster VRT, and extreme leftist bastion, is actually gloating over this prospect:

'More than a fifth of people in Flanders is now of foreign origin'.

Of course, immigration can be a good thing. But regardless of whether one does or does not like the changing appearance of our streets, the question must be asked as to what changes took place in the 'original' Fleming's psyche, changes of which the psychological ramifications apparently deter him from performing the quintessential, 'sustainable', 'to be or not to be' act: procreation.


Saturday, January 30, 2021


SCK•CEN (for Studiecentrum voor Kernenergie/Centre d'Étude de l'énergie Nucléaire) is Belgium's nuclear research centre, located in a wooded area near Mol in the province of Antwerp. SCK•CEN offers worldwide scientific and strategic support in the energy sector, space and medical fields. With regards to the latter, even though you have in all likelihood never heard of SCK/CEN, you have probably come into contact with it because it is among the top five players in the production of medical radio-isotopes (more than 25 per cent), which are used for medical imaging and cancer diagnosis/treatment.

SCK/CEN dates from 1952, and in the course of its history fielded four nuclear research reactors, of which three remain operational.

Soon, a new one will be added, but a completely different one: MYRRHA.

MYRRHA, which got the green light from the Belgian government on SEP 7, 2018 with a budget of € 1.6 bn, stands for Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications. It will be the world’s first large scale Accelerator Driven System (ADS), consisting of a subcritical nuclear reactor driven by a high power linear accelerator (linac). Because of the subcritical concentration of fission material, the nuclear reaction is sustained by the particle accelerator only (this means that turning off the proton beam results in an immediate and safe halt of the nuclear reactions).

Before going into details re the MYRRHA reactor, first some quick recap on the kind of nuclear fission in thermal neutron reactors, which constitute the bulk of our nuclear powerplants. Namely fission of supercritical mass, i.e. fission material in which a nuclear reaction, once started, is self-sustaining. As the pic shows, a neutron penetrates a Uranium U-235 isotope, which absorbs it, thus leading to an isotope with a larger 'mass', U-236 (I assume you know that we are still talking about a uranium atom, as the number of protons remains the same):

U-236 is unstable and quickly falls apart in two lighter cores (often Krypton and Barium, but other combinations happen as well) PLUS two or three neutrons, which go on to bump into other U-235 atoms, thereby also causing them to split. The multiplication factor k, is defined as the number of neutrons in one generation divided by the number of neutrons in the preceding generation, and it is clear that if k is greater than 1, the chain reaction is indeed self-sustaining (supercritical): the neutron population will grow exponentially.

If k is less than 1, the chain reaction is subcritical, and the neutron population will exponentially decay - the nuclear chain reaction will stop in an of itself.

Every time a heavy uranium atom falls apart, an energy amount of roughly 200MeV is released. In practice this boils down to a kilogram of uranium-235 (U-235) yielding approximately three million times more energy than a kilogram of coal burned conventionally (7.2 × 1013 joules per kilogram of uranium-235 versus 2.4 × 107 joules per kilogram of coal).

Now, to initiate nuclear fission in thermal neutron reactors, it usually suffices to place a so-called startup neutron source, e.g. Californium-252, in the reactor core loaded with fresh nuclear fuel, e.g. UO2 or MOX (for Mixed Oxides, meaning a mixture of UO2 and PuO2). The neutron flux in UO2 or MOX is in and of itself insufficient to trigger a nuclear reaction, but adding certain quantities of this startup neutron source will do the trick, and a smooth and reliable initiation of fission will take place.

It is completely different in the type of reactor that MYRRHA is about. First of all, in such a reactor, an "Accelerator Driven System', the nuclear fuel is subcritical, meaning that it cannot sustain a chain reaction itself. But secondly, the 'bombarding' neutrons do not generate from a 'startup neutron source' but originate instead through a mechanism called 'spallation'. The diagram below shows how a powerful proton beam is 'shot' in a 'spallation target' encapsulated by subcritical fuel:

The following pic offers some more specifics for SCK's ADS:

Now, Before we go any further with this, it's useful to illustrate the spallation phenomenon using an appropriate analogy, and what better analogy than spall in AFV's?

Even if a round does not penetrate an AFV's armour, it may cause tiny pieces, flakes etc to break free from the armour plate's other side - i.e., the AFV's interior - to break off the main body and go flying through the inside of the vehicle, thereby causing potentially serious injury to the crew. Particulary in WW1, with the techniques of producing decent armour plates still in their infancy, and no one yet thinking of installing spall liners, this was a serious problem, leading to the adoption of so-called splatter masks:

Now, imagine that instead of a shell striking an armour plate, a proton at nearly the speed of light slams into an atom:

A particle beam consisting of protons at around 1 GeV is shot into a so-callad 'spallation target' consisting of mercury, tantalum, lead or another heavy metal. A 'cloud' of subatomic particles scatters, much like metal flakes and fragments are ejected upon impact of the shell in the example above. As protons too are dispersed, the element effectively becomes another one of lower atom number.

Although it's actually a bit more complicated than that, because...

... spallation can best be imagined as a two-stage process. In the first stage, the high-enery proton reacts with nucleons-neutrons and protons-inside the nucleus. The reactions that follow cause an 'intranuclear cascade' of high-energy (greater than 20 MeV) protons, neutrons, and pions within the nucleus. During this intranuclear cascade, some of these energetic hadrons escape as secondary particles.

Others transfer their kinetic energy in the nucleus leaving it in an excited state. In the second stage (nuclear de-excitation), so-called evaporation takes place when the excited nucleus relaxes by emitting low-energy (less than 20 MeV) neutrons, protons, alpha particles, etc., with most of the particles being neutrons. The low-energy neutrons produced during evaporation are important in a spallation source because they can be moderated (reduced) to even lower energies for use as research probes. After evaporation, the nucleus that remains may be radioactive and may emit gamma rays.

Secondary high-energy particles produced during the intranuclear cascade move more or less in the same direction as that of the impacting proton and can collide with other nuclei in the target. The reactions that follow are a series of secondary spallation reactions that generate more secondary particles and low-energy neutrons.

To sum it up, spallation is a nuclear reaction in which a 'spallation target' (ST) is bombarded by very high-energy (> 50MeV) particles. The incident particles, such as protons, disintegrate the nuclei through inelastic nuclear reactions. The result is the emission of protons, α-particles, and mostly neutrons.

So how do neutrons originating from fission differ from those resulting from spallation? One difference is in the nuclear debris remaining after the reactions. But the most important difference between spallation and fission neutrons is the number released. The overall number of neutrons resulting from one fission event (about 2.5) is considerably less than that resulting from a spallation event, for about 13 neutrons for each incident proton may be released.

And this is where the concept of the Accelerator Driven System, or better, Accelerator Driven Subcriticial Reactor, in a recent past referred to as 'Energy Amplifier', comes into play. The idea is the brainchild of renowned nuclear scientist Carlo Rubbia, who proposed a nuclear reactor based on a proton cyclotron accelerator with a beam energy of 800 MeV to 1 GeV, and a target with thorium as fuel and lead as a coolant. Its advantages were and are manifold:

1.) "Subcritical" means that the reaction could not run away — if anything went wrong, the reaction would stop and the reactor would cool down.

2.) Thorium is an abundant element — at least much more than uranium — reducing strategic and political supply issues and eliminating costly and energy-intensive isotope separation. There is sufficient thorium to generate energy for at least several thousand years.

3.) This kind of reactor would produce very little plutonium, thus more "proliferation-resistant" than conventional nuclear power.

4.) The reactor offers the perspective of "consuming" plutonium, reducing the world stockpile of the very-long-lived element.

5.) Less long-lived radioactive waste is produced — the waste material would decay after 500 years to the radioactive level of coal ash.

6.) Building ADS reactors requires primarily an engineering effort, since the science behind the concept is established and more (fundamental) reseach is not needed.

7.) Power generation might be economical compared to current nuclear reactor designs if the total fuel cycle and decommissioning costs are considered.

8.) The design can work on a relatively small scale, and has the potential to load-follow by modulating the proton beam, making it more suitable for countries without a well-developed power grid system.

9.) Inherent safety and safe fuel transport can make the technology more suitable for developing countries as well as in densely populated areas.

And here we come back to SCK's MYRRHA project, which will consist of four major components, to be constructed in three phases:

1.) Phase 1: design and construction of the first linac section (up to 100 MeV). Testing this section will show whether the linac is up to the operational reliability required to drive the reactor with a 600 MeV proton beam. Additionally, Phase 1 will also encompass the Proton Target Facility for the production of medical radioisotopes and for fundamental and applied research in physics as well as for material research. A third component is the Fusion Target Station, where materials for fusion reactors will be tested. This phase is scheduled for completion in 2026.

2.) Phase 2: extension of the 100 MeV linac to 600 MeV. This extension is required to drive the reactor. When completed, the linac will be approximately 400 m long. Phase 2 is scheduled for completion in 2033.

3.) Phase 3: construction of the reactor. The double wall, unpressurised pool-type vessel will accommodate all primary systems. The reactor is scheduled to be commissioned in 2036.


A 400 m long linear accelerator (linac) will provide protons at an energy of 600 MeV to the reactor. In contrast to Rubbia's original proposal, a linear accelerator was selected due to its enhanced beam stability when compared with cyclotrons. Reliability as an essential performance goal for MYRRHA is reflected in the design of the linac, which boasts twin redundant 17 MeV injectors. The remaining part of the accelerator up to 600 MeV based on super-conducting radio-frequency modules is a common choice in view of optimised performance with high beam currents.

At the end of the linac, the 4 mA proton beam is injected into the reactor, generating a flux of fast neutrons through spallation. Simultaneously, protons are also fed to the multi-purpose Proton Target Facility and to the Fusion Target Station. Currently, the injector is being assembled and tested at the Cyclotron Resource Centre (CRC) at UCLouvain in Louvain-la-Neuve in Wallonia.

By and large, construction of the injectors and the first linac stage (up to 100MeV) constitues the first phase in the project, to be concluded by 2026. However, SCK being first and foremost a, nuclear research facility, Phase 1 will also incorporate building a Proton Target Facility for the production of medical radioisotopes and for fundamental and applied research in physics, as well as for material research.


The MYRRHA reactor is so-called pool type, cooled by 7,800 tons of lead-bismuth eutectic (LBE). LBE is a eutectic alloy, meaning that it melts or solidifies at temperature lower than the melting point of any of the constituents (LBE consists of lead (44.5%) and bismuth (55.5%) and has a melting point of 123.5 °C (whereas pure lead melts at 327 °C and pure bismuth at 271 °C).

All primary systems are within the double walled 16 m high and 10 m wide reactorvessel:

It's a rather crowded pic, so to dinstinguish the LBE path as it is pumped down, picks up heat from the core, is pushed upwards again where it transfers its heat to water in the blue colored heat exchangers, this pic may help...

...while this schematic offers some more insight re the disposition of the actual core:

This is the proposed layout of the core (via a pdf by Prof. Dr. Hamid Aït Abderrahim, Director of MYRRHA and Deputy Director-General of SCK CEN).

Some more detail re the layout is provided by this schematic, per Didier J. De Bruyn:

At the design's present state, the reactor core consists of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel pins, typical for fast reactors. The In-Pile test Sections (IPS), which will be located in dedicated fuel assembly (FA) positions, are larger in diameter giving more flexibility for experiments. Thirty seven positions can be occupied by IPSs or by the spallation target (the central one of the core in sub-critical configuration) or by control and shutdown rods (in the core critical configuration). This gives a large flexibility in the choice of the more suitable position (neutron flux) for each experiment.

A final 3D-schematic of the core:

To cap it off, a list of the advantages offered by the use of LBE in the MYRRHA reactor:

* Wide operating temperature range: LBE has a relatively low melting point (125 ºC) when compared with its individual components (lead 327 ºC, bismuth 271 ºC), while it boils only above 1670 ºC.
* Excellent heat conductivity: LBE enables the reactor’s primary system to operate under normal pressure.
* Radiation shielding: LBE is an excellent radiation shield that blocks gamma radiation.
* Virtually transparent to neutrons: LBE is an ideal medium as spallation source inside the reactor where the linac’s proton beam is converted into neutrons required to sustain the fission reaction.
* Fuel mix: LBE allows a wide variety of fuels to be used besides uranium 235 and 238, including mixed oxide (MOX) fuels. In particular, simulations indicate that linac driven, LBE cooled reactors may contain up to 30% of long-lived minor actinides, such as neptunium, americium and curium.
* LBE based reactors use far less nuclear fuel and produce far less nuclear waste.

By default, the MYRRHA reactor has a sub-critical design: it doesn’t contain enough fissile material to maintain the chain reaction (although it is capable to operate in a critical mode!). An additional safety factor is the reactor's passive cooling capacity: in case of electric failure, or when the linac is switched off and the reactor comes to an immediate stop, the cooling of the reactor is further guaranteed by the natural circulation of the LBE.

MYRRHA is projected to have a maximum output of 100 MWth (MW for thermal energy).


The Proton Target Facility (PTF) is a multi-purpose research infrastructure that will use up to 0.5 mA of the 100 MeV proton beam. It will ensure the production of radioisotopes and research into several fields. Radioisotopes, short for an element's radioactive isotopes, are essentially atoms that contain an unstable combination of neutrons and protons, or excess energy in their nucleus. They are used in the medical sector as radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic or therapeutic ends, in industrial radiography, which uses a gamma source to conduct stress testing or check the integrity of welds (e.g. to test aeroplane jet engine turbines for structural integrity), and in scientific research, e.g. tracing the flow of contaminants in bilogical systems.

The PTF's "heart" is the Isotope Separation On-Line (ISOL) system, where a wide range of radioisotopes will be produced by nuclear reactions of the proton beam with the primary target material (a.o. ceramic materials containing uranium, thorium or tantalum). The ISOL-produced radioisotopes are extracred from the target in a delicate and technologically challenging task, involving lasers, electrostatic devices (quadrupoles and electrodes) and precisely tuned magnetic dipoles. Finally, one specific radioisotope with high purity will be transported to the laboratory for further manipulation. Radioisotope manipulation can range from a pure collection onto a foil (for medical isotope harvesting for instance) to trapping them in electromagnetic “bottles” and observing the radioactive decay in a very detailed manner.

The full PTF laboratory surrounding the primary target container will consist of:

* a facility for handling and temporary storage of the used primary targets, * a mass separation room, * a radiochemistry laboratory, * a laboratory where various experimental setups for fundamental research can be installed.

The PTF will be available for national and international research groups.


Even though MYRRHA is a research reactor designed to test the feasibility of targeted proton beams to yield neutrons instead of relying on self-sustaining reactions, there's a part of MYRRHA dedicated to research on fusion instead of fission! The Fusion Target Station (FTS) is, indeed, a nuclear fusion oriented research infrastructure designed to handle a proton beam of 4 mA and 100 MeV to irradiate fusion materials.

According to the MYRRHA website, FTS consists of a flowing water containment separated from the vacuum by means of a thin metal window. By adjusting the position in the water tank, the proton beam energy can be fine-tuned to match irradiation conditions necessary to investigate fusion materials. The design will also enable the introduction of a water cooled spallation source that can generate a hybrid proton-neutron irradiation field. In normal people parlance: so the tiny proton beam that is tapped off the main beam will be used for proton irradiation, but a spallation source is also possible, and its resulting neutrons will provide the neutron irradiation part, hence the term 'hybrid proton-neutron irradiation field'.

MYRRHA: "Upon operational deployment, the FTS will be applied to investigate accumulated irradiation damage and/or to perform in-situ testing of materials exposed simultaneously to mechanical load and irradiation beam. Irradiated samples will be transferred to hot cell facilities at SCK CEN or elsewhere, where they can be thoroughly examined with state-of-art equipment. FTS exploitation focus will therefore be on screening perspective/innovative materials and assessment of irradiation-creep softening effects as well as diagnostic equipment validation."

For those interested, Neutron Irradiation of structural materials leads to a variety of atomic-size defects, which generally increase the strength (but can severely reduce ductility). A popular term is Defect-induced strengthening (or radiation hardening). More info here.

Simultaneously, Proton Irradiation has become a very valubale radiation damage tool. Proton Irradiation experiments can capture the effects of neutron irradiation on microstructure, microchemistry, and hardening. Further reading here.

The FTS facility will consist of the following elements:

* an irradiation module * an instrumentation module * a hot cell for transportation and sample reloading * a dedicated testing laboratory in hot cells of Nuclear Material Science Institute

FTS, a research facility within a research facility so to say, will welcome research projects at both the national and international level, and will be tightly linked with European fusion research activities (EFDA/EUROfusion consortium).

This post would not be complete without shedding some light on the crucial role of nuclear physicist Prof. Dr. Hamid Aït Abderrahim, an Algerian native nationalised Belgian, who is so to say MYRRHA's Godfather:

An immensely interesting pdf detailing a webinar by the Professor can be found here.

We wish Prof. Dr. Abderrahim and his team all the best for a successful conclusion of this groundbreaking project!