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The Next Processor Change is Within ARMs Reach

As you may have seen, I sent the following Tweet: “The Apple ARM MacBook future is coming, maybe sooner than people expect” https://twitter.com/choco_bit/status/1266200305009676289?s=20
Today, I would like to further elaborate on that.
tl;dr Apple will be moving to Arm based macs in what I believe are 4 stages, starting around 2015 and ending around 2023-2025: Release of T1 chip Macbooks, release of T2 chip Macbooks, Release of at least one lower end model Arm Macbook, and transitioning full lineup to Arm. Reasons for each are below.
Apple is very likely going to switch to switch their CPU platform to their in-house silicon designs with an ARM architecture. This understanding is a fairly common amongst various Apple insiders. Here is my personal take on how this switch will happen and be presented to the consumer.
The first question would likely be “Why would Apple do this again?”. Throughout their history, Apple has already made two other storied CPU architecture switches - first from the Motorola 68k to PowerPC in the early 90s, then from PowerPC to Intel in the mid 2000s. Why make yet another? Here are the leading reasons:
A common refrain heard on the Internet is the suggestion that Apple should switch to using CPUs made by AMD, and while this has been considered internally, it will most likely not be chosen as the path forward, even for their megalithic giants like the Mac Pro. Even though AMD would mitigate Intel’s current set of problems, it does nothing to help the issue of the x86_64 architecture’s problems and inefficiencies, on top of jumping to a platform that doesn’t have a decade of proven support behind it. Why spend a lot of effort re-designing and re- optimizing for AMD’s platform when you can just put that effort into your own, and continue the vertical integration Apple is well-known for?
I believe that the internal development for the ARM transition started around 2015/2016 and is considered to be happening in 4 distinct stages. These are not all information from Apple insiders; some of these these are my own interpretation based off of information gathered from supply-chain sources, examination of MacBook schematics, and other indicators from Apple.

Stage1 (from 2014/2015 to 2017):

The rollout of computers with Apple’s T1 chip as a coprocessor. This chip is very similar to Apple’s T8002 chip design, which was used for the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2. The T1 is primarily present on the first TouchID enabled Macs, 2016 and 2017 model year MacBook Pros.
Considering the amount of time required to design and validate a processor, this stage most likely started around 2014 or 2015, with early experimentation to see whether an entirely new chip design would be required, or if would be sufficient to repurpose something in the existing lineup. As we can see, the general purpose ARM processors aren’t a one- trick pony.
To get a sense of the decision making at the time, let’s look back a bit. The year is 2016, and we're witnessing the beginning of stagnation of Intel processor lineup. There is not a lot to look forward to other than another “+” being added to the 14nm fabrication process. The MacBook Pro has used the same design for many years now, and its age is starting to show. Moving to AMD is still very questionable, as they’ve historically not been able to match Intel’s performance or functionality, especially at the high end, and since the “Ryzen” lineup is still unreleased, there is absolutely no benchmarks or other data to show they are worth consideration, and AMD’s most recent line of “Bulldozer” processors were very poorly received. Now is probably as good a time as any to begin experimenting with the in-house ARM designs, but it’s not time to dive into the deep end yet, our chips are not nearly mature enough to compete, and it’s not yet certain how long Intel will be stuck in the mud. As well, it is widely understood that Apple and Intel have an exclusivity contract in exchange for advantageous pricing. Any transition would take considerable time and effort, and since there are no current viable alternative to Intel, the in-house chips will need to advance further, and breaching a contract with Intel is too great a risk. So it makes sense to start with small deployments, to extend the timeline, stretch out to the end of the contract, and eventually release a real banger of a Mac.
Thus, the 2016 Touch Bar MacBooks were born, alongside the T1 chip mentioned earlier. There are good reasons for abandoning the piece of hardware previously used for a similar purpose, the SMC or System Management Controller. I suspect that the biggest reason was to allow early analysis of the challenges that would be faced migrating Mac built- in peripherals and IO to an ARM-based controller, as well as exploring the manufacturing, power, and performance results of using the chips across a broad deployment, and analyzing any early failure data, then using this to patch any issues, enhance processes, and inform future designs looking towards the 2nd stage.
The former SMC duties now moved to T1 includes things like
The T1 chip also communicates with a number of other controllers to manage a MacBook’s behavior. Even though it’s not a very powerful CPU by modern standards, it’s already responsible for a large chunk of the machine’s operation. Moving control of these peripherals to the T1 chip also brought about the creation of the fabled BridgeOS software, a shrunken-down watchOS-based system that operates fully independently of macOS and the primary Intel processor.
BridgeOS is the first step for Apple’s engineering teams to begin migrating underlying systems and services to integrate with the ARM processor via BridgeOS, and it allowed internal teams to more easily and safely develop and issue firmware updates. Since BridgeOS is based on a standard and now well-known system, it means that they can leverage existing engineering expertise to flesh out the T1’s development, rather than relying on the more arcane and specialized SMC system, which operates completely differently and requires highly specific knowledge to work with. It also allows reuse of the same fabrication pipeline used for Apple Watch processors, and eliminated the need to have yet another IC design for the SMC, coming from a separate source, to save a bit on cost.
Also during this time, on the software side, “Project Marzipan”, today Catalyst, came into existence. We'll get to this shortly.
For the most part, this Stage 1 went without any major issues. There were a few firmware problems at first during the product launch, but they were quickly solved with software updates. Now that engineering teams have had experience building for, manufacturing, and shipping the T1 systems, Stage 2 would begin.

Stage2 (2018-Present):

Stage 2 encompasses the rollout of Macs with the T2 coprocessor, replacing the T1. This includes a much wider lineup, including MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, starting with 2018 models, MacBook Air starting with 2018 models, the iMac Pro, the 2019 Mac Pro, as well as Mac Mini starting in 2018.
With this iteration, the more powerful T8012 processor design was used, which is a further revision of the T8010 design that powers the A10 series processors used in the iPhone 7. This change provided a significant increase in computational ability and brought about the integration of even more devices into T2. In addition to the T1’s existing responsibilities, T2 now controls:
Those last 2 points are crucial for Stage 2. Under this new paradigm, the vast majority of the Mac is now under the control of an in-house ARM processor. Stage 2 also brings iPhone-grade hardware security to the Mac. These T2 models also incorporated a supported DFU (Device Firmware Update, more commonly “recovery mode”), which acts similarly to the iPhone DFU mode and allows restoration of the BridgeOS firmware in the event of corruption (most commonly due to user-triggered power interruption during flashing).
Putting more responsibility onto the T2 again allows for Apple’s engineering teams to do more early failure analysis on hardware and software, monitor stability of these machines, experiment further with large-scale production and deployment of this ARM platform, as well as continue to enhance the silicon for Stage 3.
A few new user-visible features were added as well in this stage, such as support for the passive “Hey Siri” trigger, and offloading image and video transcoding to the T2 chip, which frees up the main Intel processor for other applications. BridgeOS was bumped to 2.0 to support all of these changes and the new chip.
On the macOS software side, what was internally known as Project Marzipan was first demonstrated to the public. Though it was originally discovered around 2017, and most likely began development and testing within later parts of Stage 1, its effects could be seen in 2018 with the release of iPhone apps, now running on the Mac using the iOS SDKs: Voice Recorder, Apple News, Home, Stocks, and more, with an official announcement and public release at WWDC in 2019. Catalyst would come to be the name of Marzipan used publicly. This SDK release allows app developers to easily port iOS apps to run on macOS, with minimal or no code changes, and without needing to develop separate versions for each. The end goal is to allow developers to submit a single version of an app, and allow it to work seamlessly on all Apple platforms, from Watch to Mac. At present, iOS and iPadOS apps are compiled for the full gamut of ARM instruction sets used on those devices, while macOS apps are compiled for x86_64. The logical next step is to cross this bridge, and unify the instruction sets.
With this T2 release, the new products using it have not been quite as well received as with the T1. Many users have noticed how this change contributes further towards machines with limited to no repair options outside of Apple’s repair organization, as well as some general issues with bugs in the T2.
Products with the T2 also no longer have the “Lifeboat” connector, which was previously present on 2016 and 2017 model Touch Bar MacBook Pro. This connector allowed a certified technician to plug in a device called a CDM Tool (Customer Data Migration Tool) to recover data off of a machine that was not functional. The removal of this connector limits the options for data recovery in the event of a problem, and Apple has never offered any data recovery service, meaning that a irreparable failure of the T2 chip or the primary board would result in complete data loss, in part due to the strong encryption provided by the T2 chip (even if the data got off, the encryption keys were lost with the T2 chip). The T2 also brought about the linkage of component serial numbers of certain internal components, such as the solid state storage, display, and trackpad, among other components. In fact, many other controllers on the logic board are now also paired to the T2, such as the WiFi and Bluetooth controller, the PMIC (Power Management Controller), and several other components. This is the exact same system used on newer iPhone models and is quite familiar to technicians who repair iPhone logic boards. While these changes are fantastic for device security and corporate and enterprise users, allowing for a very high degree of assurance that devices will refuse to boot if tampered with in any way - even from storied supply chain attacks, or other malfeasance that can be done with physical access to a machine - it has created difficulty with consumers who more often lack the expertise or awareness to keep critical data backed up, as well as the funds to perform the necessary repairs from authorized repair providers. Other issues reported that are suspected to be related to T2 are audio “cracking” or distortion on the internal speakers, and the BridgeOS becoming corrupt following a firmware update resulting in a machine that can’t boot.
I believe these hiccups will be properly addressed once macOS is fully integrated with the ARM platform. This stage of the Mac is more like a chimera of an iPhone and an Intel based computer. Technically, it does have all of the parts of an iPhone present within it, cellular radio aside, and I suspect this fusion is why these issues exist.
Recently, security researchers discovered an underlying security problem present within the Boot ROM code of the T1 and T2 chip. Due to being the same fundamental platform as earlier Apple Watch and iPhone processors, they are vulnerable to the “checkm8” exploit (CVE-2019-8900). Because of how these chips operate in a Mac, firmware modifications caused by use of the exploit will persist through OS reinstallation and machine restarts. Both the T1 and T2 chips are always on and running, though potentially in a heavily reduced power usage state, meaning the only way to clean an exploited machine is to reflash the chip, triggering a restart, or to fully exhaust or physically disconnect the battery to flush its memory. Fortunately, this exploit cannot be done remotely and requires physical access to the Mac for an extended duration, as well as a second Mac to perform the change, so the majority of users are relatively safe. As well, with a very limited execution environment and access to the primary system only through a “mailbox” protocol, the utility of exploiting these chips is extremely limited. At present, there is no known malware that has used this exploit. The proper fix will come with the next hardware revision, and is considered a low priority due to the lack of practical usage of running malicious code on the coprocessor.
At the time of writing, all current Apple computers have a T2 chip present, with the exception of the 2019 iMac lineup. This will change very soon with the expected release of the 2020 iMac lineup at WWDC, which will incorporate a T2 coprocessor as well.
Note: from here on, this turns entirely into speculation based on info gathered from a variety of disparate sources.
Right now, we are in the final steps of Stage 2. There are strong signs that an a MacBook (12”) with an ARM main processor will be announced this year at WWDC (“One more thing...”), at a Fall 2020 event, Q1 2021 event, or WWDC 2021. Based on the lack of a more concrete answer, WWDC2020 will likely not see it, but I am open to being wrong here.

Stage3 (Present/2021 - 2022/2023):

Stage 3 involves the first version of at least one fully ARM-powered Mac into Apple’s computer lineup.
I expect this will come in the form of the previously-retired 12” MacBook. There are rumors that Apple is still working internally to perfect the infamous Butterfly keyboard, and there are also signs that Apple is developing an A14x based processors with 8-12 cores designed specifically for use as the primary processor in a Mac. It makes sense that this model could see the return of the Butterfly keyboard, considering how thin and light it is intended to be, and using an A14x processor would make it will be a very capable, very portable machine, and should give customers a good taste of what is to come.
Personally, I am excited to test the new 12" “ARMbook”. I do miss my own original 12", even with all the CPU failure issues those older models had. It was a lovely form factor for me.
It's still not entirely known whether the physical design of these will change from the retired version, exactly how many cores it will have, the port configuration, etc. I have also heard rumors about the 12” model possibly supporting 5G cellular connectivity natively thanks to the A14 series processor. All of this will most likely be confirmed soon enough.
This 12” model will be the perfect stepping stone for stage 3, since Apple’s ARM processors are not yet a full-on replacement for Intel’s full processor lineup, especially at the high end, in products such as the upcoming 2020 iMac, iMac Pro, 16” MacBook Pro, and the 2019 Mac Pro.
Performance of Apple’s ARM platform compared to Intel has been a big point of contention over the last couple years, primarily due to the lack of data representative of real-world desktop usage scenarios. The iPad Pro and other models with Apple’s highest-end silicon still lack the ability to execute a lot of high end professional applications, so data about anything more than video editing and photo editing tasks benchmarks quickly becomes meaningless. While there are completely synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench, Antutu, and others, to try and bridge the gap, they are very far from being accurate or representative of the real real world performance in many instances. Even though the Apple ARM processors are incredibly powerful, and I do give constant praise to their silicon design teams, there still just isn’t enough data to show how they will perform for real-world desktop usage scenarios, and synthetic benchmarks are like standardized testing: they only show how good a platform is at running the synthetic benchmark. This type of benchmark stresses only very specific parts of each chip at a time, rather than how well it does a general task, and then boil down the complexity and nuances of each chip into a single numeric score, which is not a remotely accurate way of representing processors with vastly different capabilities and designs. It would be like gauging how well a person performs a manual labor task based on averaging only the speed of every individual muscle in the body, regardless of if, or how much, each is used. A specific group of muscles being stronger or weaker than others could wildly skew the final result, and grossly misrepresent performance of the person as a whole. Real world program performance will be the key in determining the success and future of this transition, and it will have to be great on this 12" model, but not just in a limited set of tasks, it will have to be great at *everything*. It is intended to be the first Horseman of the Apocalypse for the Intel Mac, and it better behave like one. Consumers have been expecting this, especially after 15 years of Intel processors, the continued advancement of Apple’s processors, and the decline of Intel’s market lead.
The point of this “demonstration” model is to ease both users and developers into the desktop ARM ecosystem slowly. Much like how the iPhone X paved the way for FaceID-enabled iPhones, this 12" model will pave the way towards ARM Mac systems. Some power-user type consumers may complain at first, depending on the software compatibility story, then realize it works just fine since the majority of the computer users today do not do many tasks that can’t be accomplished on an iPad or lower end computer. Apple needs to gain the public’s trust for basic tasks first, before they will be able to break into the market of users performing more hardcore or “Pro” tasks. This early model will probably not be targeted at these high-end professionals, which will allow Apple to begin to gather early information about the stability and performance of this model, day to day usability, developmental issues that need to be addressed, hardware failure analysis, etc. All of this information is crucial to Stage 4, or possibly later parts of Stage 3.
The 2 biggest concerns most people have with the architecture change is app support and Bootcamp.
Any apps released through the Mac App Store will not be a problem. Because App Store apps are submitted as LLVM IR (“Bitcode”), the system can automatically download versions compiled and optimized for ARM platforms, similar to how App Thinning on iOS works. For apps distributed outside the App Store, thing might be more tricky. There are a few ways this could go:
As for Bootcamp, while ARM-compatible versions of Windows do exist and are in development, they come with their own similar set of app support problems. Microsoft has experimented with emulating x86_64 on their ARM-based Surface products, and some other OEMs have created their own Windows-powered ARM laptops, but with very little success. Performance is a problem across the board, with other ARM silicon not being anywhere near as advanced, and with the majority of apps in the Windows ecosystem that were not developed in-house at Microsoft running terribly due to the x86_64 emulation software. If Bootcamp does come to the early ARM MacBook, it more than likely will run like very poorly for anything other than Windows UWP apps. There is a high chance it will be abandoned entirely until Windows becomes much more friendly to the architecture.
I believe this will also be a very crucial turning point for the MacBook lineup as a whole. At present, the iPad Pro paired with the Magic Keyboard is, in many ways, nearly identical to a laptop, with the biggest difference being the system software itself. While Apple executives have outright denied plans of merging the iPad and MacBook line, that could very well just be a marketing stance, shutting the down rumors in anticipation of a well-executed surprise. I think that Apple might at least re-examine the possibility of merging Macs and iPads in some capacity, but whether they proceed or not could be driven by consumer reaction to both products. Do they prefer the feel and usability of macOS on ARM, and like the separation of both products? Is there success across the industry of the ARM platform, both at the lower and higher end of the market? Do users see that iPadOS and macOS are just 2 halves of the same coin? Should there be a middle ground, and a new type of product similar to the Surface Book, but running macOS? Should Macs and iPads run a completely uniform OS? Will iPadOS ever see exposed the same sort of UNIX-based tools for IT administrators and software developers that macOS has present? These are all very real questions that will pop up in the near future.
The line between Stage 3 and Stage 4 will be blurry, and will depend on how Apple wishes to address different problems going forward, and what the reactions look like. It is very possible that only 12” will be released at first, or a handful more lower end model laptop and desktop products could be released, with high performance Macs following in Stage 4, or perhaps everything but enterprise products like Mac Pro will be switched fully. Only time will tell.

Stage 4 (the end goal):

Congratulations, you’re made it to the end of my TED talk. We are now well into the 2020s and COVID-19 Part 4 is casually catching up to the 5G = Virus crowd. All Macs have transitioned fully to ARM. iMac, MacBooks Pro and otherwise, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, everything. The future is fully Apple from top to bottom, and vertical integration leading to market dominance continues. Many other OEM have begun to follow in this path to some extent, creating more demand for a similar class of silicon from other firms.
The remainder here is pure speculation with a dash of wishful thinking. There are still a lot of things that are entirely unclear. The only concrete thing is that Stage 4 will happen when everything is running Apple’s in- house processors.
By this point, consumers will be quite familiar with the ARM Macs existing, and developers have had have enough time to transition apps fully over to the newly unified system. Any performance, battery life, or app support concerns will not be an issue at this point.
There are no more details here, it’s the end of the road, but we are left with a number of questions.
It is unclear if Apple will stick to AMD's GPUs or whether they will instead opt to use their in-house graphics solutions that have been used since the A11 series of processors.
How Thunderbolt support on these models of Mac will be achieved is unknown. While Intel has made it openly available for use, and there are plans to have USB and Thunderbolt combined in a single standard, it’s still unclear how it will play along with Apple processors. Presently, iPhones do support connecting devices via PCI Express to the processor, but it has only been used for iPhone and iPad storage. The current Apple processors simply lack the number of lanes required for even the lowest end MacBook Pro. This is an issue that would need to be addressed in order to ship a full desktop-grade platform.
There is also the question of upgradability for desktop models, and if and how there will be a replaceable, socketed version of these processors. Will standard desktop and laptop memory modules play nicely with these ARM processors? Will they drop standard memory across the board, in favor of soldered options, or continue to support user-configurable memory on some models? Will my 2023 Mac Pro play nicely with a standard PCI Express device that I buy off the shelf? Will we see a return of “Mac Edition” PCI devices?
There are still a lot of unknowns, and guessing any further in advance is too difficult. The only thing that is certain, however, is that Apple processors coming to Mac is very much within arm’s reach.
submitted by Fudge_0001 to apple [link] [comments]

Mega Unpopular Opinion: Take-home projects can be great!

Ah, I have been debating whether or not I wanted to write this for a while now, but after seeing a few recent threads with 10-50 comments unanimously hating on take-home projects, I figured I would share my opinion.
Some of you may not read until the end, so let me preface this by saying not all take-home projects are great. I am on your side in that you should not complete a take-home project if any of the following are true:
...

With that being said, I will now move on to why I think take-home projects can be great.
For starters, it weeds out sooooo much of the competition. If you look at some job postings on LinkedIn, they can have 200+ applicants in 24 hours, and that is not even accounting for people who find the job via other means (i.e. other job boards, company website, etc). Thats a lot of applicants. Now, I know better than to assume that this subreddit is representative of the whole software industry, but clearly a take-home project potentially gets candidates TO WEED THEMSELVES OUT. So 200 candidates may have applied, but now you're competing with a significantly smaller percentage of people who actually wanted to take the time and do the take-home project. Your odds are much better now.
Now, I know exactly what you're thinking. You don't want to spend the 8-12 hours it would take to complete this take-home project, and you'd rather spend your time casting your net farther and shotgunning your resume out to more companies, but WHY NOT BOTH? You're the one looking for a job, and you are really not in the position to weed yourself out of potential employment. Some of you people have been on the hunt for a job for months and still won't stoop down to the level of giving a company that much time without being guaranteed another interview / a job. New-flash, doing a project increases your chance of getting a job, just like shotgunning your resume AND you get to practice / show off your programming skills (who knows, maybe mess around a make a project you can put on your GitHub as a sample of your work for other employers to see). On top of this, if you are someone with a lot of free-time - I'm looking at you new grads - and don't have a family/responsibilities that you need to take care of, then you really can't complain about time. Let's face it, instead of doing this project, you're watching Silicon Valley on HBO for the third time "to relax" after a "long day" of filling out the same Workday application forms. Come on, searching for a full time job should be a 40hwk job in and of itself.
My next point is that these take home projects sometimes substitute final/on-site interviews. Yea, those 5 hours interviews where you meet every hiring manager and their mother and get grilled round after round because you can't find the optimal solution for sorting a reverse binary search tree that is upside down, flipped, and cooked well done while someone is staring at you, asking questions, and forbidding you from using any resources you would have at your disposable in (almost) any given real world scenario. Yea, those are the real stress-inducing woes of the software interview process, and I would think people would want to avoid those at all costs. Anecdotally, the company that I started working for 3 months ago gave me the choice of a 4 1/2 zoom interview consisting of 4 one hour technical interviews with different hiring managers, or a take-home project that would take 6-10 hours with a 1 1/2 hour follow up discussing my project. The decision was so obvious - stress study an entire week before the interview (hint, this alone probably would take up more time than the take-home project, but on the other hand does prepare you for future interviews) and then endure the torture that is 4+ hours on a zoom call / in an office coding on a whiteboard, or spend about 1-2 hours a day for a week, with access to all resources, leisurely coding up a project, that if done correctly, increases your chance of getting a job astronomically. Not to mention, this option is becoming much more popular with COVID and WFH and the lack of being able to get candidates into the office.

All in all, I really wish more companies offered take-home projects as at least an option for their interview process. In my opinion, they are more informative for both parties, as it represents the work you will be doing if you were to get the job, and it is indicative of the level of effort and knowledge you possess in context of the position they are seeking to fill. I really wish everyone on here would stop spreading their hatred for take-home projects, especially to new grads who have never even done them. And for the love of god stop saying to bill the company for making you do a take-home project, that is just the silliest thing I have ever heard, and I DOUBT any company ever would reply to that kind of an invoice. If you really have that much adversity to them, just don't bother.

TL;DR: I believe some take-home projects are worth doing ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
submitted by Kixstander to cscareerquestions [link] [comments]

[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!
the below is a reply to the above
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
the below is a reply to the above
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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Invisible Object Culling In Quake Related Engines (REVISED)

Prologue
Despite all these great achievements in video cards development and the sworn assurances of developers about drawing 2 to 3 million polygons on screen without a significant FPS drop, it’s not all that rosy in reality. It depends on methods of rendering, on the number of involved textures and on the complexity and number of involved shaders. So even if all this really does ultimately lead to high performance, it only happens in the demos that developerss themselves kindly offer. In these demos, some "spherical dragons in vacuum" made of a good hundred thousand polygons are drawn very quickly indeed. However, the real ingame situation for some reason never looks like this funny dragon from a demo, and as a result many comrades abandon the development of their "Crysis killer" as soon as they can render a single room with a couple of light sources, because for some reason FPS in this room fluctuate around 40-60 even on their 8800GTS and upon creating second room it drops to a whopping 20. Of course with problems like this, it would be incorrect to say how things aren’t that bad and how the trouble of such developers are purely in their absence of correctly implemented culling, and how it is time for them to read this article. But for those who have already overcome “the first room syndrome" and tried to draw – inferior though, but, anyway - the world, this problem really is relevant.
However, it should be borne in mind that QUAKE, written in ancient times, was designed for levels of a “corridor" kind exclusively; therefore methods of clipping discussed in this article are not applicable to landscapes, such as ones from STALKER or Crysis, since completely different methods work there, whose analysis is beyond the scope of this article. Meanwhile we’ll talk about the classic corridor approach to mapping and the effective clipping of invisible surfaces, as well as clipping of entire objects.

The paper tree of baloon leaves

As you probably know, QUAKE uses BSP, Binary Spacing Partition tree. This is a space indexing algorithm, and BSP itself doesn’t care if the space is open or closed, it doesn’t even care if the map is sealed, it can be anything. BSP implies the division of a three-dimensional object into a certain number of secant planes called "the branches" or "the nodes" and volumetric areas or rooms called "the leaves". The names are confusing as you can see. In QUAKE / QUAKE2 the branches usually contain information about the surfaces that this branch contain, and the leaves are an empty space, not filled with nothing. Although sometimes leaves may contain water for example (in a form of a variable that indicates, specifically, that we’ve got water in this leaf). Also, the leaf contains a pointer to the data of potential visibility (Potentially Visible Set, PVS) and a list of all surfaces that are marked as being visible from this leaf. Actually the approach itself implies that we are able to draw our world however we prefer, either using leaves only or using branches only. This is especially noticeable in different versions of QUAKE: for example, in QUAKE1 in a leaf we just mark our surfaces as visible and then we also sequentially go through all the surfaces visible from a particular branch, assembling chains of surfaces to draw them later. But in QUAKE3, we can accumulate visible surfaces no sooner than we’ll get into the leaf itself.
In QUAKE and QUAKE2, all surfaces must lie on the node, which is why the BSP tree grows rather quickly, but in exchange this makes it possible to trace these surfaces by simply moving around the tree, not wasting time to check each surface separately, which affects the speed of the tracer positively. Because of this, unique surface is linked to each node (the original surface is divided into several if necessary) so in the nodes we always have what is known to be visible beforehand, and therefore we can perform a recursive search on the tree using the BBox pyramid of frustum as a direction of our movement along the BSP tree (SV_RecursiveWorldNode function).
In QUAKE3, the tree was simplified and it tries to avoid geometry cuts as much as possible (a BSP tree is not even obliged to cut geometry, such cuts are but a matter of optimality of such a tree). And surfaces in QUAKE3 do not lie on the node because patches and triangle models lie there instead. But what happens would they be put on the node nevertheless, you can see on the example of "The Edge Of Forever" map that I compiled recently for an experimental version of Xash. Turns out, in places that had a couple thousand visible nodes and leaves in the original, there are almost 170 thousand of them with a new tree. And this is the result after all the preliminary optimizations, otherwise it could have been even more, he-he. Yeah, so... For this reason, the tree in QUAKE3 does not put anything on the node and we certainly do need to get into the leaf, mark visible surfaces in it and add them to the rendering list. On the contrary, in QUAKE / QUAKE2 going deep down to the leaf itself is not necessary.
Invisible polygon cutoff (we are talking about world polys, separate game objects will be discussed a bit later) is based on two methods:
The first method is to use bit-vectors of visibility (so-called PVS - Potential Visible Set). The second method is regular frustum culling which actually got nothing to do with BSP but works just as efficiently, for a certain number of conditions of course. Bottom line: together these two methods provide almost perfect clipping of invisible polygons, drawing a very small visible piece out of the vast world. Let's take a closer look at PVS and how it works.

When FIDO users get drunk

Underlying idea of PVS is to expose the fact that one leaf is visible from another. For BSP alone it’s basically impossible because leaves from completely different branches can be visible at the same time and you will never find a way to identify the pattern for leafs from different branches seeing each other - it simply doesn’t exist. Therefore, the compiler has to puff for us, manually checking the visibility of all leaves from all leaves. Information about visibility in this case is scanty: one Boolean variable with possible values 0 and 1. 0 means that leaf is not visible and 1 means that leaf is visible. It is easy to guess that for each leaf there is a unique set of such Boolean variables the size of the total number of leaves on the map. So a set like this but for all the leaves will take an order of magnitude more space: the number of leaves multiplied by the number of leaves and multiplied by the size of our variable in which we will store information of visibility (0 \ 1).
And the number of leaves, as you can easily guess, is determined by map size map and by the compiler, which upon reaching a certain map size, cease to divide the world into leaves and treat resulting node as a leaf. Leaf size vary for different QUAKE. For example, in QUAKE1 leaves are very small. For example I can tell you that the compiler divide standard boxmap in QUAKE1 into as many as four leaves meanwhile in QUAKE3 similar boxmap takes only one leaf. But we digress.
Let's estimate the size of our future PVS file. Suppose we have an average map and it has a couple thousand leaves. Would we imagine that the information about the leaf visibility is stored in a variable of char type (1 byte) then the size of visdata for this level would be, no more no less, almost 4 megabytes. That is, much AF. Of course an average modern developer would shrug and pack the final result into zip archive but back in 1995 end users had modest machines, their memory was low and therefore visdata was packed in “more different” ways. The first step in optimizing is about storing data not in bytes, but in bits. It is easy to guess that such approach reduce final result as much as 8 times and what's typical AF – does it without any resource-intensive algorithms like Huffman trees. Although in exchange, such approach somewhat worsened code usability and readability. Why am I writing this? Due to many developers’ lack of understanding for conditions in code like this:
if ( pvs [ leafnum >> 3 ] & ( 1 << ( leafnum & 7 ) ) ) { } 
Actually, this condition implement simple, beautiful and elegant access to the desired bit in the array (as one can recall, addressing less than one byte is impossible and you can only work with them via bit operations)

Titans that keep the globe spinning

The visible part of the world is cut off in the same fashion: we find the current leaf where the player is located (in QUAKE this is implemented by the Mod_PointInLeaf function) then we get a pointer to visdata for the current leaf (for our convenience, it is linked directly to the leaf in the form of "compressed_vis" pointer) and then stupidly go through all the leaves and branches of the map and check them for being visible from our leaf (this can be seen in the R_MarkLeaves function). As long as some leaves turn out to be visible from the current leaf we assign them a unique number from "r_visframecount" sequence which increases by one every frame. Thus, we emphasize that this leaf is visible when we build the current frame. In the next frame, "r_framecount" is incremented by one and all the leaves are considered invisible again. As one can understand, this is much more convenient and much faster than revisiting all the leaves at the end of each frame and zeroing their "visible" variable. I drew attention to this feature because this mechanism also bothers some and they don’t understand how it works.
The R_RecursiveWorldNode function “walk” along leaves and branches marked this way. It cuts off obviously invisible leaves and accumulate a list of surfaces from visible ones. Of course the first check is done for the equivalence of r_visframecount and visframe for the node in question. Then the branch undergoes frustum pyramid check and if this check fails then we don’t climb further along this branch. Having stumbled upon a leaf, we mark all its surfaces visible the same way, assigning the current r_framecount value to the visframe variable (in the future this will help us to determine quickly whether a certain surface is visible in the current frame). Then, using a simple function, we determine which side we are from the plane of our branch (each branch has its own plane, literally called “plane” in the code) and, again, for now, we just take all surfaces linked to this branch and add them to the drawing chain (so-called “texturechain”), although nobody can actually stop us from drawing them immediately, right there, (in QUAKE1 source code one can see both options) having previously checked these surfaces for clipping with the frustum pyramid, or at least having made sure that the surface faces us.
In QUAKE, each surface has a special flag SURF_PLANEBACK which help us determine the orientation of the surface. But in QUAKE3 there is no such flag anymore, and clipping of invisible surfaces is not as efficient, sending twice as many surfaces for rendering. However, their total number after performing all the checks is not that great. However, whatever one may say, adding this check to Xash3D raised average FPS almost one and half times in comparison to original Half-Life. This is on the matter whether it is beneficial. But we digress.
So after chaining and drawing visible surfaces, we call R_RecursiveWorldNode again but now - for the second of two root branches of BSP tree. Just in case. Because the visible surfaces, too, may well be there. When the recursion ends, the result will either be a whole rendered world, or chains of visible surfaces at least. This is what can actually be sent for rendering with OpenGL or Direct3D, well, if we did not draw our world right in the R_RecursiveWorldNode function of course. Actually this method with minor upgrades successfully used in all three QUAKEs.

A naked man is in a wardrobe because he's waiting for a tram

One of the upgrades is utilization of the so-called areaportals. This is another optimization method coming straight out of QUAKE2. The point of using areaportals is about game logic being able to turn the visibility of an entire sectors on and off at its discretion. Technically, this is achieved as follows: the world is divided into zones similar to the usual partitioning along the BSP tree, however, there can’t be more than 256 of them (later I will explain why) and they are not connected in any way.
Regular visibility is determined just like in QUAKE; however, by installing a special “func_areaportal” entity we can force the compiler to split an area in two. This mechanism operates on approximately the same principle as the algorithm of searching for holes in the map, so you won’t deceive the compiler by putting func_areaportal in a bare field - the compiler will simply ignore it. Although if you make areaportal the size of the cross-section of this field (to the skybox in all directions) in spite of everything the zones will be divided. We can observe this technique in Half-Life 2 where an attempt to return to old places (with cheats for example) shows us disconnected areaportals and a brief transition through the void from one zone to another. Actually, this mechanism helped Half-Life 2 simulate large spaces successfully and still use BSP level structure (I have already said that BSP, its visibility check algorithm to be precise, is not very suitable for open spaces).
So installed areaportal forcibly breaks one zone into two, and the rest of the zoneization is at the discretion of the compiler, which at the same time makes sure not to exceed 256 zones limit, so their sizes can be completely different. Well, I repeat, it depends on the overall size of the map. Our areaportal is connected to some door dividing these two zones. When the door is closed - it turns areaportal off and the zones are separated from each other. Therefore, if the player is not in the cut off zone, then rendering it is not worth it. In QUAKE, we’d have to do a bunch of checks and it’s possible that we could only cut off a fraction of the number of polygons (after all, the door itself is not an obstacle for either visibility check, or even more so, nor it is for frustum). Compare to case in point: one command is issued - and the whole room is excluded from visibility. “Not bad,” you’d say, “but how would the renderer find out? After all, we performed all our operations on the server and the client does not know anything about it.” And here we go back to the question why there can’t be more than 256 zones.
The point is, information about all of zone visibility is, likewise, packaged in bit flags (like PVS) and transmitted to the client in a network message. Dividing 256 bits by 8 makes 32 bytes, which generally isn’t that much. In addition, the tail of this information can be cut off at ease if it contains zeroes only. Though the payback for such an optimization would appear as an extra byte that will have to be transmitted over the network to indicate the actual size of the message about the visibility of our zones. But, in general, this approach justified.

Light_environment traces enter from the back

Source Engine turned out to have a terrible bug which makes the whole areaportal thing nearly meaningless. Numerous problems arise because of it: water breaks down into segments that pop in, well, you should be familiar with all this by now. Areaportal cuts the geometry unpredictably, like an ordinary secant plane, but its whole point is being predictable! Whereas areaportal brushes in Source Engine have absolutely no priority in splitting the map. It should be like this: first, the tree is cut the regular way. And when no suitable planes left, the final secant plane of areaportal is used. This is the only way to cut the sectors correctly.

Modern problems

The second optimization method, as I said, is increased size of the final leaf akin to QUAKE3. It is believed that a video card would draw a certain amount of polygons much faster than the CPU would check whether they are visible. This come from the very concept of visibility check: if visibility check takes longer than direct rendering, then well, to hell with this check. The controversy of this approach is determined by a wide range of video cards present at the hands of the end users, and it is strongly determined by the surging fashion for laptops and netbooks in which a video card is a very conditional and very weak concept (don’t even consider its claimed Shader Model 3 support). Therefore, for desktop gaming machines it would be more efficient to draw more at a time, but for weak video cards of laptops traditional culling will remain more reliable. Even if it is such a simple culling as I described earlier.

Decompression sickness simulator

Although I should also mention the principles of frustum culling, perhaps they are incomprehensible to some. Cutoff by frustum pyramid is actually pure mathematics without any compiler calculations. From the current direction of the player’s gaze, a clipping pyramid is built (the tip of the pyramid – in case someone can’t understand - is oriented towards the player’s point of view and its base is oriented in the direction of player’s view). The angle between the walls of the pyramid can be sharp or blunt - as you probably guessed already, it depends on the player's FOV. In addition, the player can forcefully pull the far wall of the pyramid closer to himself (yes, this is the notorious “MaxRange” parameter in the “worldspawn” menu of the map editor). Of course, OpenGL also builds a similar pyramid for its internal needs when it takes information from the projection matrix but we’re talking local pyramid now. The finished pyramid consists of 4-6 planes (QUAKE uses only 4 planes and trusts OpenGL to independently cut far and near polygons, but if you write your own renderer and intend to support mirrors and portals you will definitely need all six planes). Well, the frustum test itself is an elementary check for a presence of AA-box (AABB, Axis Aligned Bounding Box) in the frustum pyramid. Or speaking more correctly, this is a check for their intersection. Let me remind you that each branch has its own dimensions (a fragment of secant plane bound by neighboring perpendicular secant planes) which are checked for intersection. But unfortunately the frustum test has one fundamental drawback - it cannot cut what is directly in the player’s view. We can adjust the cutoff distance, we can even make that “ear feint” like they do in QFusion where final zFar value is calculated in each frame before rendering and then taken into account in entity clipping, but after all, whatever they say, the value itself was obtained from PVS-information. Therefore, neither of two methods can replace the other but they just complement each other. This should be remembered.

I gotta lay off the pills I'm taking

It seems that we figured out the rendering of the world and now we are moving on smoothly to cutting off moving objects... which are all the visible objects in the world! Even ones that, at te first glance, stand still and aren’t planning to move anywhere. Cause the player moves! From one point he still sees a certain static object, and from another point, of course, he no longer does. This detail should also be considered.
Actually, at the beginning of this article I already spoke in detail about an algorithm of objects’ visibility check: first we find the visible leaf for the player, then we find the visible leaf for the entity and then we check by visdata whether they see each other. I, too, would like to clarify (if someone suddenly does not understand) how each moving entity is given the number of its current visible leaf, i.e. directly for entity’s its own current position, and the leaves themselves are of course static and always in the same place.

Ostrich is such an OP problem solver

So the method described above has two potential problems:
The first problem is that even if A equals B, then, oddly enough, B is far from being always equal A. In other words, entity A can see entity B, but this does not mean that entity B see entity A, and, no, it’s not about one of them “looking” away. So why is this happening? Most often for two reasons:
The first reason is that one of the entities’ ORIGIN sit tight inside the wall and the Mod_PointInLeaf function for it points to the outer “zero” leaf from which EVERYTHING is visible (haven’t any of you ever flown around the map?). Meanwhile, no leaf inside the map can see outer leaf - these two features actually explain an interesting fact of an entire world geometry becoming visible and on the contrary, all objects disappearing when you fly outside the map. In regular mode, similar problems can occur for objects attached to the wall or recessed into the wall. For example, sometimes the sounds of a pressed button or opening door disappear because its current position went beyond the world borders. This phenomenon is fought by interchanging objects A and B or by obtaining alternative points for the position of an object, but all the same, it’s all not very reliable.

But lawyer said that you don't exist

In addition, as I said, there is another problem. It come from the fact that not every entity fits a single leaf. Only the player is so small that he can always be found in one leaf only (well, in the most extreme case - in two leaves on the border of water and air. This phenomenon is fought with various hacks btw), but some giant hentacle or on the contrary, an elevator made as a door entity, can easily occupy 30-40 leaves at a time. An attempt to check one leaf (for example, one where the center of the model is) will inevitably lead to a deplorable result: as soon as the center of an object will be out of the player’s visibility range, the entire object will disappear completely. The most common case is the notorious func_door used as an elevator. There is one in QUAKE on the E1M1. Observe: it travels halfway and then its ORIGIN is outside the map and therefore it must disappear from the player’s field of view. However, it does not go anywhere, right? Let us see in greater detail how this is done.
The simplest idea that comes to one’s mind: since the object occupies several leaves, we have to save them all somewhere in the structure of an object in the code and check them one by one. If at least one of these leaves is visible, then the whole object is visible (for example, it’s very tip). This is exactly what was implemented in QUAKE: a static array for 16 leaves and a simple recursive function SV_FindTouchedLeafs that looks for all the leaves in range hardcoded in "pev->absmins" and "pev->absmax" variables (pev i.e. a Pointer to EntVars_t table). absmins and absmax are recalculated each time SV_LinkEdict (or its more specific case of UTIL_SetOrigin) is called. Hence the quite logical conclusion that a simple change of ORIGIN without recalculating its visible leaf will take the object out of visibility sooner or later even if, surprisingly enough, it’s right in front of the player and the player should technically still be able to see it. Inb4 why one have to call UTIL_SetOrigin and wouldn’t it be easier to just assign new value to the "pev->origin" vector without calling this function. It wouldn’t.
With this method we can solve both former problems perfectly: we can fight the loss of visibility if the object's ORIGIN went beyond the world borders and level the difference of visibility for A->B versus visibility for B->A.

A secret life of monster_tripmine

Actually we’ve yet to encounter another problem, but it does not occur immediately. Remember, we’ve got an array of 16 leaves. But what if it won’t be enough? Thank God there are no beams in QUAKE and no very long elevators made as func_door either. For this exact reason. Because when the array is filled to capacity, the SV_FindTouchedLeafs function just stop and we can only hope that there won’t be that many cases when an object disappear right before our eyes. But in the original QUAKE, such cases may well be. In Half-Life, the situation is even worse - as you can remember there are rays that can reach for half the map, tripmine rays for example. In this case, a situation may occur when we see just the very tip of the ray. For most of these rays, 16 leaves are clearly not enough. Valve tried to remedy the situation by increasing the array to 48 leaves. That helped. On early maps. If you remember, at the very beginning of the game when the player has already got off the trailer, he enters that epic elevator that takes him down. The elevator is made as a door entity and it occupies 48 leaves exactly. Apparently, the final expansion of the array was based after its dimensions. Then the programmers realized that this isn’t really a solution, because no matter how much one would expand the array, it can still be lacking for something. So then they screwed up an alternative method for visibility check: a head branch (headnode) check. In short, this is still the same SV_FindTouchedLeafs but now it is called directly from the place of visibility check and with a subsequent transfer of visdata in there. In general, it is not used very often because it is slower than checking pre-accumulated leaves, that is, it is intended just for such non-standard cases like this one.
Well, and since, I hope, general picture of the clipping mechanism already beginning to take shape in your mind, I will finish the article in just a few words.
On the server, all objects that have already passed the visibility check are added to the network message containing information about visible objects. Thus, on the client, the list of visible entities is already cut off by PVS and we do not have to do this again and therefore a simple frustum check is enough. You ask, "why did we have to cut off invisible objects on the server when we could do this later when we are on the client already?" I reply: yes, we could, but now the objects cut off on the server didn’t get into the network message and saved us some traffic. And since the player still does not see them, what is the point of transferring them to the client just to check them for visibility after? This is a kind of double optimizing :)
© Uncle Mike 2012
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[LONG] My Story of Disillusionment with and Disappointment in the World and Myself

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

Subreddit Demographic Survey 2019 : The Results

Subreddit Demographic Survey 2019

1. Introduction

Once a year, this subreddit hosts a survey in order to get to know the community a little bit and in order to answer questions that are frequently asked here. Earlier this summer, a few thousand of you participated in a massive Subreddit Demographic Survey.
Unfortunately during the process of collating results we lost contact with SailorMercure, who in previous years has completed all of the data analysis from the Google form responses. We were therefore required to collate and analyse the responses from the raw data via Excel. I attach the raw data below for those who would like to review it. For 2020 we will be rebuilding the survey from scratch.
Raw Data
Multiple areas of your life were probed: general a/s/l, education, finances, religious beliefs, marital status, etc. They are separated in 10 sections:
  1. General Demographics
  2. Education Level
  3. Career and Finances
  4. Child Status
  5. Current Location
  6. Religion and Spirituality
  7. Sexual and Romantic Life
  8. Childhood and Family Life
  9. Sterilization
  10. Childfreedom

2. Methodology

Our sample is people from this subreddit who saw that we had a survey going on and were willing to complete the survey. A weekly stickied announcement was used to alert members of the community that a survey was being run.

3. Results

5,976 participants over the course of two months at a subscriber count of 588,488 (total participant ratio of slightly >1%)

3.1 General Demographics

5,976 participants in total

Age group

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 491 8.22%
19 to 24 1820 30.46%
25 to 29 1660 27.78%
30 to 34 1107 18.52%
35 to 39 509 8.52%
40 to 44 191 3.20%
45 to 49 91 1.52%
50 to 54 54 0.90%
55 to 59 29 0.49%
60 to 64 15 0.25%
65 to 69 4 0.07%
70 to 74 2 0.03%
75 or older 3 0.05%
84.97% of the sub is under the age of 35.

Gender and Gender Identity

4,583 participants out of 5,976 (71.54%) were assigned the gender of female at birth, 1,393 (23.31%) were assigned the gender of male at birth. Today, 4,275 (70.4%) participants identify themselves as female, 1,420 (23.76%) as male, 239 (4.00%) as non binary and 42 (0.7%) as other (from lack of other options).

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation Participants # Percentage
Asexual 373 6.24%
Bisexual 1,421 23.78%
Heterosexual 3,280 54.89%
Homosexual 271 4.53%
It's fluid 196 3.28%
Other 95 1.59%
Pansexual 340 5.69%

Birth Location

Because the list contains over 120 countries, we'll show the top 20 countries:
Country of birth Participants # Percentage
United States 3,547 59.35%
Canada 439 7.35%
United Kingdom 414 6.93%
Australia 198 3.31%
Germany 119 1.99%
Netherlands 72 1.20%
France 68 1.14%
Poland 66 1.10%
India 59 0.99%
Mexico 49 0.82%
New Zealand 47 0.79%
Brazil 44 0.74%
Sweden 43 0.72%
Philippines 39 0.65%
Finland 37 0.62%
Russia 34 0.57%
Ireland 33 0.55%
Denmark 31 0.52%
Norway 30 0.50%
Belgium 28 0.47%
90.31% of the participants were born in these countries.

Ethnicity

That one was difficult for many reasons and didn't encompass all possibilities simply from lack of knowledge.
Ethnicity Participants # Percentage
Caucasian / White 4,583 76.69%
Hispanic / Latinx 332 5.56%
Multiracial 188 3.15%
East Asian 168 2.81%
Biracial 161 2.69%
African Descent / Black 155 2.59%
Indian / South Asian 120 2.01%
Other 83 1.39%
Jewish (the ethnicity, not the religion) 65 1.09%
Arab / Near Eastern / Middle Eastern 40 0.67%
American Indian or Alaskan Native 37 0.62%
Pacific Islander 24 0.40%
Aboriginal / Australian 20 0.33%

3.2 Education Level

5,976 participants in total

Current Level of Education

Highest Current Level of Education Participants # Percentage
Bachelor's degree 2061 34.49%
Some college / university 1309 21.90%
Master's degree 754 12.62%
Graduated high school / GED 721 12.06%
Associate's degree 350 5.86%
Trade / Technical / Vocational training 239 4.00%
Did not complete high school 238 3.98%
Professional degree 136 2.28%
Doctorate degree 130 2.18%
Post Doctorate 30 0.50%
Did not complete elementary school 8 0.13%

Future Education Plans

Educational Aims Participants # Percentage
I'm good where I am right now 1,731 28.97%
Master's degree 1,384 23.16%
Bachelor's degree 1,353 22.64%
Doctorate degree 639 10.69%
Vocational / Trade / Technical training 235 3.93%
Professional degree 214 3.58%
Post Doctorate 165 2.76%
Associate's degree 164 2.74%
Graduate high school / GED 91 1.52%
Of our 5,976 participants, a total of 1,576 (26.37%) returned to higher education after a break of 3+ years, the other 4,400 (73.76%) did not.
Degree (Major) Participants # Percentage
I don't have a degree or a major 1,010 16.90%
Other 580 9.71%
Health Sciences 498 8.33%
Engineering 455 7.61%
Information and Communication Technologies 428 7.16%
Arts and Music 403 6.74%
Social Sciences 361 6.04%
Business 313 5.24%
Life Sciences 311 5.20%
Literature and Languages 255 4.27%
Humanities 230 3.85%
Fundamental and Applied Sciences 174 2.91%
Teaching and Education Sciences 174 2.91%
Communication 142 2.38%
Law 132 2.21%
Economics and Politics 101 1.69%
Finance 94 1.57%
Social Sciences and Social Action 84 1.41%
Environment and Sustainable Development 70 1.17%
Marketing 53 0.89%
Administration and Management Sciences 52 0.87%
Environmental Planning and Design 24 0.40%
Fashion 18 0.30%
Theology and Religious Sciences 14 0.23%
A number of you commented in the free-form field at the end of the survey, that your degree was not present and that it wasn't related to any of the listed ones. We will try to mitigate this in the next survey!

3.3 Career and Finances

Out of the 5,976 participants, 2,199 (36.80%) work in the field they majored in, 953 (15.95%) graduated but do not work in their original field. 1,645 (27.53%) are still studying. The remaining 1,179 (19.73%) are either retired, currently unemployed or out of the workforce for unspecified reasons.
The top 10 industries our participants are working in are:
Industry Participants # Percentage
Health Care and Social Assistance 568 9.50%
Retail 400 6.69%
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 330 5.52%
College, University, and Adult Education 292 4.89%
Government and Public Administration 258 4.32%
Finance and Insurance 246 4.12%
Hotel and Food Services 221 3.70%
Scientific or Technical Services 198 3.31%
Software 193 3.23%
Information Services and Data Processing 169 2.83%
*Note that "other", "I'm a student" and "currently unemployed" have been disgregarded for this part of the evaluation.
Out of the 4,477 participants active in the workforce, the majority (1,632 or 36.45%) work between 40-50 hours per week, 34.73% (1,555) are working 30-40 hours weekly. Less than 6% work >50 h per week, and 23.87% (1,024 participants) less than 30 hours.
718 or 16.04% are taking over managerial responsibilities (ranging from Jr. to Sr. Management); 247 (5.52%) are self employed or partners.
On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), the overwhelming majority (4,009 or 67.09%) indicated that career plays a very important role in their lives, attributing a score of 7 and higher.
Only 663 (11.09%) gave it a score below 4, indicating a low importance.
The importance of climbing the career ladder is very evenly distributed across all participants and ranges in a harmonized 7-12% range for each of the 10 steps of importance.
23.71% (1,417) of the participants are making extra income with a hobby or side job.
From the 5,907 participants not already retired, the overwhelming majority of 3,608 (61.11%) does not actively seek early retirement. From those who are, most (1,024 / 17.34%) want to do so between 55-64; 7 and 11% respectively in the age brackets before or after. Less than 3.5% are looking for retirement below 45 years of age.
1,127 participants decided not to disclose their income brackets. The remaining 4,849 are distributed as follows:
Income Participants # Percentage
$0 to $14,999 1,271 26.21%
$15,000 to $29,999 800 16.50%
$30,000 to $59,999 1,441 29.72%
$60,000 to $89,999 731 15.08%
$90,000 to $119,999 300 6.19%
$120,000 to $149,999 136 2.80%
$150,000 to $179,999 67 1.38%
$180,000 to $209,999 29 0.60%
$210,000 to $239,999 22 0.45%
$240,000 to $269,999 15 0.31%
$270,000 to $299,999 5 0.10%
$300,000 or more 32 0.66%

3.4 Child Status

5,976 participants in total
94.44% of the participants (5,644) would call themselves "childfree" (as opposed to 5.56% of the participants who would not call themselves childfree. However, only 68.51% of the participants (4,094) do not have children and do not want them in any capacity at any point of the future. The other 31.49% have a varying degree of indecision, child wanting or child having on their own or their (future) spouse's part.
The 4,094 participants were made to participate in the following sections of the survey.

3.5 Current Location

4,094 childfree participants in total

Current Location

There were more than 200 options of country, so we are showing the top 10 CF countries.
Current Location Participants # Percentage
United States 2,495 60.94%
United Kingdom 331 8.09%
Canada 325 7.94%
Australia 146 3.57%
Germany 90 2.20%
Netherlands 66 1.61%
France 43 1.05%
Sweden 40 0.98%
New Zealand 33 0.81%
Poland 33 0.81%
The Top 10 amounts to 87.98% of the childfree participants' current location.

Current Location Qualification

These participants would describe their current city, town or neighborhood as:
Qualification Participants # Percentage
Urban 1,557 38.03%
Suburban 1,994 48.71%
Rural 543 13.26%

Tolerance to "Alternative Lifestyles" in Current Location

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

3.6 Religion and Spirituality

4094 childfree participants in total

Faith Originally Raised In

There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs..
Faith Participants # Percentage
Christianity 2,624 64.09%
Atheism 494 12.07%
None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion in the upbringing) 431 10.53%
Agnosticism 248 6.06%
Judaism 63 1.54%
Other 45 1.10%
Hinduism 42 1.03%
Islam 40 0.98%
Buddhism 24 0.59%
Paganism 14 0.34%
This top 10 amounts to 98.3% of the 4,094 childfree participants.

Current Faith

There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs:
Faith Participants # Percentage
Atheism 2,276 55.59%
Agnosticism 829 20.25%
Christianity 343 8.38%
Other 172 4.20%
Paganism 100 2.44%
Satanism 67 1.64%
Spiritualism 55 1.34%
Witchcraft 54 1.32%
Buddhism 43 1.05%
Judaism 30 0.73%
This top 10 amounts to 96.95% of the participants.

Level of Current Religious Practice

Level Participants # Percentage
Wholly secular / Non religious 3045 74.38%
Identify with religion, but don't practice strictly 387 9.45%
Lapsed / Not serious / In name only 314 7.67%
Observant at home only 216 5.28%
Observant at home. Church/Temple/Mosque/Etc. attendance 115 2.81%
Church/Temple/Mosque/Etc. attendance only 17 0.42%

Effect of Faith over Childfreedom

Figure 4

Effect of Childfreedom over Faith

Figure 5

3.7 Romantic and Sexual Life

4,094 childfree participants in total

Current Dating Situation

Status Participants # Percentage
Divorce 37 0.90
Engaged 215 5.25
Long term relationship, living together 758 18.51
Long term relationship, not living with together 502 12.26
Married 935 22.84
Other 69 1.69
Separated 10 0.24
Short term relationship 82 2.00
Single and dating around, but not looking for anything serious 234 5.72
Single and dating around, looking for something serious 271 6.62
Single and not looking 975 23.82
Widowed 6 0.15

Ethical Non-Monogamy

Non-monogamy (or nonmonogamy) is an umbrella term for every practice or philosophy of intimate relationship that does not strictly hew to the standards of monogamy, particularly that of having only one person with whom to exchange sex, love, and affection.
82.3% of the childfree participants do not practice ethical non-monogamy, as opposed to 17.7% who say they do.

Childfree Partner

Regarding to currently having a childfree or non childfree partner, excluding the 36.7% of childfree participants who said they do not have a partner at the moment. For this question only, only 2591 childfree participants are considered.
Partner Participants # Percentage
Childfree partner 2105 81.2%
Non childfree partner 404 9.9%
More than one partner; all childfree 53 1.3%
More than one partner; some childfree 24 0.9%
More than one partner; none childfree 5 0.2%

Dating a Single Parent

Would the childfree participants be willing to date a single parent?
Answer Participants # Percentage
No, I'm not interested in single parents and their ties to parenting life 3693 90.2
Yes, but only if it's a short term arrangement of some sort 139 3.4
Yes, whether for long term or short term, but with some conditions 161 3.9
Yes, whether for long term or short term, with no conditions 101 2.5

3.8 Childhood and Family Life

On a scale from 1 (very unhappy) to 10 (very happy), how would you rate your childhood?
Answer Participants # Percentage
1 154 3.8%
2 212 5.2%
3 433 10.6%
4 514 12.6%
5 412 10.1%
6 426 10.4%
7 629 15.4%
8 704 17.2%
9 357 8.7%
10 253 6.2%

3.9 Sterilization

4,094 childfree participants in total
Sterilization Status Participants # Percentage
No, I am not sterilized and, for medical, practical or other reasons, I do not need to be 687 16.8
No. However, I've been approved for the procedure and I'm waiting for the date to arrive 119 2.9
No. I am not sterilized and don't want to be 585 14.3
No. I want to be sterilized but I have started looking for a doctor (doctor shopping) 328 8.0
No. I want to be sterilized but I haven't started doctor shopping yet 1896 46.3
Yes. I am sterilized 479 11.7

Already Sterilized

479 sterilized childfree participants in total

Age when starting doctor shopping or addressing issue with doctor

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 37 7.7%
19 to 24 131 27.3%
25 to 29 159 33.2%
30 to 34 92 19.2%
35 to 39 47 9.8%
40 to 44 9 1.9%
45 to 49 1 0.2%
50 to 54 1 0.2%
55 or older 2 0.4%

Age at the time of sterilization

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 4 0.8%
19 to 24 83 17.3%
25 to 29 181 37.8%
30 to 34 121 25.3%
35 to 39 66 13.8%
40 to 44 17 3.5%
45 to 49 3 0.6%
50 to 54 1 0.2%
55 or older 3 0.6%

Elapsed time between requesting procedure and undergoing procedure

Time Participants # Percentage
Less than 3 months 280 58.5
Between 3 and 6 months 78 16.3
Between 6 and 9 months 20 4.2
Between 9 and 12 months 10 2.1
Between 12 and 18 months 17 3.5
Between 18 and 24 months 9 1.9
Between 24 and 30 months 6 1.3
Between 30 and 36 months 4 0.8
Between 3 and 5 years 19 4.0
Between 5 and 7 years 9 1.9
More than 7 years 27 5.6

How many doctors refused at first, before finding one who would accept?

Doctor # Participants # Percentage
None. The first doctor I asked said yes 340 71.0%
One. The second doctor I asked said yes 56 11.7%
Two. The third doctor I asked said yes 37 7.7%
Three. The fourth doctor I asked said yes 15 3.1%
Four. The fifth doctor I asked said yes 8 1.7%
Five. The sixth doctor I asked said yes 5 1.0%
Six. The seventh doctor I asked said yes 4 0.8%
Seven. The eighth doctor I asked said yes 1 0.2%
Eight. The ninth doctor I asked said yes 1 0.2%
I asked more than 10 doctors before finding one who said yes 12 2.5%

Approved, not Sterilized Yet

119 approved but not yet sterilised childfree participants in total. Owing to the zero participants who were approved but not yet sterilised in the 45+ age group in the 2018 survey, these categories were removed from the 2019 survey.

Age when starting doctor shopping or addressing issue with doctor

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 11 9.2%
19 to 24 42 35.3%
25 to 29 37 31.1%
30 to 34 23 19.3%
35 to 39 5 4.2%
40 to 45 1 0.8%

How many doctors refused at first, before finding one who would accept?

Doctor # Participants # Percentage
None. The first doctor I asked said yes 77 64.7%
One. The second doctor I asked said yes 12 10.1%
Two. The third doctor I asked said yes 12 10.1%
Three. The fourth doctor I asked said yes 5 4.2%
Four. The fifth doctor I asked said yes 2 1.7%
Five. The sixth doctor I asked said yes 4 3.4%
Six. The seventh doctor I asked said yes 1 0.8%
Seven. The eighth doctor I asked said yes 1 0.8%
Eight. The ninth doctor I asked said yes 0 0.0%
I asked more than ten doctors before finding one who said yes 5 4.2%

How long between starting doctor shopping and finding a doctor who said "Yes"?

Time Participants # Percentage
Less than 3 months 65 54.6%
3 to 6 months 13 10.9%
6 to 9 months 9 7.6%
9 to 12 months 1 0.8%
12 to 18 months 2 1.7%
18 to 24 months 2 1.7%
24 to 30 months 1 0.8%
30 to 36 months 1 0.8%
3 to 5 years 8 6.7%
5 to 7 years 6 5.0%
More than 7 years 11 9.2%

Age when receiving green light for sterilization procedure?

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 1 0.8%
19 to 24 36 30.3%
25 to 29 45 37.8%
30 to 34 27 22.7%
35 to 39 9 7.6%
40 to 44 1 0.8%

Not Sterilized Yet But Looking

328 searching childfree participants in total

How many doctors did you ask so far?

Doctor # Participants # Percentage
1 204 62.2%
2 61 18.6%
3 29 8.8%
4 12 3.7%
5 7 2.1%
6 6 1.8%
7 1 0.3%
8 1 0.3%
9 1 0.3%
More than 10 6 1.8%

How long have you been searching so far?

Time Participants # Percentage
Less than 3 months 117 35.7%
3 to 6 months 44 13.4%
6 to 9 months 14 4.3%
9 to 12 months 27 8.2%
12 to 18 months 18 5.5%
18 to 24 months 14 4.3%
24 to 30 months 17 5.2%
30 to 36 months 9 2.7%
3 to 5 years 35 10.7%
5 to 7 years 11 3.4%
More than 7 years 22 6.7%

At what age did you start searching?

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 50 15.2%
19 to 24 151 46.0%
25 to 29 86 26.2%
30 to 34 31 9.5%
35 to 39 7 2.1%
40 to 44 2 0.6%
45 to 54 1 0.3%

3.10 Childfreedom

4,094 childfree participants in total
Only 1.1% of the childfree participants (46 out of 4094) literally owns a jetski, but 46.1% of the childfree participants (1889 out of 4094) figuratively owns a jetski. A figurative jetski is an expensive material possession that purchasing would have been almost impossible had you had children.

Primary Reason to Not Have Children

Reason Participants # Percentage
Aversion towards children ("I don't like children") 1222 29.8
Childhood trauma 121 3.0
Current state of the world 87 2.1
Environmental (it includes overpopulation) 144 3.5
Eugenics ("I have "bad genes" ") 62 1.5
Financial 145 3.5
I already raised somebody else who isn't my child 45 1.1
Lack of interest towards parenthood ("I don't want to raise children") 1718 42.0
Maybe interested for parenthood, but not suited for parenthood 31 0.8
Medical ("I have a condition that makes conceiving/bearing/birthing children difficult, dangerous or lethal") 52 1.3
Other 58 1.4
Philosophical / Moral (e.g.: antinatalism) 136 3.3
Tokophobia (aversion/fear of pregnancy and/or chidlbirth) 273 6.7

4. Discussion

Section 1 : General Demographics

The demographics remain largely consistent with the 2018 survey. 85% of the participants are under 35, compared with 87.5% of the subreddit in the 2018 survey. 71.54% of the subreddit identify as female, compared with 70.4% in the 2018 survey. This is in contrast to the overall membership of Reddit, estimated at 74% male according to Reddit's Wikipedia page [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit#Users_and_moderators]. There was a marked drop in the ratio of members who identify as heterosexual, from 67.7% in the 2018 survey to 54.89% in the 2019 survey. Ethnicity wise, 77% of members identified as primarily Caucasian, a slight drop from the 2018 survey, where 79.6% of members identified as primarily Caucasian.
Further research may be useful to explore the unusually high female membership of /childfree and the potential reasons for this. It is possible that the results are skewed towards those more inclined to complete a survey.
In the 2018 survey the userbase identified the following missing ethicities:
This has been rectified in the current 2019 survey.

Section 2 : Education level

As it did in the 2018 survey, this section highlights the stereotype of childfree people as being well educated. 4% of participants did not complete high school, which is a slight increase from the 2018 survey, where 3.1% of participants did not graduate high school. This could potentially be explained by the slightly higher percentage of participants under 18. 5.6% of participants were under 18 at the time of the 2018 survey, and 8.2% of participants were under 18 at the time of the 2019 survey.
At the 2019 survey, the highest percentage of responses under the: What is your degree/major? question fell under "I don't have a degree or a major" (16.9%) and "other" (9.71%). However, of the participants who were able to select a degree and/or major, the most popular responses were:
Response Participants # Percentage
Health Sciences 498 8.33%
Engineering 455 7.61%
Information and Communication Technologies 428 7.16%
Arts and Music 403 6.74%
Social Sciences 361 6.04%
Compared to the 2018 survey, health sciences have overtaken engineering, however the top 5 majors remain the same. There is significant diversity in the subreddit with regards to chosen degree/major.

Section 3 : Career and Finances

The highest percentage of participants (17.7%) listed themselves as a student. However, of those currently working, significant diversity in chosen field of employment was noted. This is consistent with the 2018 survey. The highest percentage of people working in one of the fields listed remains in Healthcare and Social Services. This is slightly down from the 2018 survey (9.9%) to 9.5%.
One of the stereotypes of the childfree is of wealth. However this is not demonstrated in the survey results. 72.4% of participants earn under $60,000 USD per annum, while 87.5% earn under $90,000 per annum. 26.2% are earning under $15,000 per annum. The results remain largely consistent with the 2018 survey. 1127 participants, or 19% chose not to disclose this information. It is possible that this may have skewed the results if a significant proportion of these people were our high income earners, but impossible to explore.
A majority of our participants work between 30 and 50 hours per week (71.2%) which is markedly increased from the 2018 survey, where 54.6% of participants worked between 30 and 50 hours per week.

Section 4 : Child Status

This section solely existed to sift the childfree from the fencesitters and the non childfree in order to get answers only from the childfree. Childfree, as it is defined in the subreddit, is "I do not have children nor want to have them in any capacity (biological, adopted, fostered, step- or other) at any point in the future." 68.5% of participants actually identify as childfree, slightly up from the 2018 survey, where 66.3% of participants identified as childfree. This is suprising in reflection of the overall reputation of the subreddit across reddit, where the subreddit is often described as an "echo chamber".

Section 5 : Current Location

The location responses are largely similar to the 2018 survey with a majority of participants living in a suburban and urban area. 86.7% of participants in the 2019 survey live in urban and suburban regions, with 87.6% of participants living in urban and suburban regions in the 2018 survey. There is likely a multifactorial reason for this, encompassing the younger, educated skew of participants and the easier access to universities and employment, and the fact that a majority of the population worldwide localises to urban centres. There may be an element of increased progressive social viewpoints and identities in urban regions, however this would need to be explored further from a sociological perspective to draw any definitive conclusions.
A majority of our participants (60.9%) live in the USA. The United Kingdom (8.1%), Canada (7.9%), Australia (3.6%) and Germany (2.2%) encompass the next 4 most popular responses. Compared to the 2018 survey, there has been a slight drop in the USA membership (64%), United Kingdom membership (7.3%) Canadian membership (8.1%), Australian membership (3.8%). There has been a slight increase in German membership, up from 1.7%. This may reflect a growing globalisation of the childfree concept.

Section 6 : Religion and Spirituality

A majority of participants were raised Christian (64.1%) however the majority are currently aetheist (55.6%) or agnostic (20.25%). This is consistent with the 2018 survey results.
A majority of participants (62.8%) rated religion as "not at all influential" to the childfree choice. This is consistent with the 2018 survey where 60.9% rated religion as "not at all influential". Despite the high percentage of participants who identify as aetheist or agnostic, this does not appear to be related to or have an impact on the childfree choice.

Section 7 : Romantic and Sexual Life

60.7% of our participants are in a relationship at the time of the survey. This is an almost identical result to the 2018 survey, where 60.6% of our participants were in a relationship. A notable proportion of our participants are listed as single and not looking (23.8%) which is consistent with the 2018 survey. Considering the frequent posts seeking dating advice as a childfree person, it is surprising that such a high proportion of the participants are not actively seeking out a relationship.
Participants that practice ethical non-monogamy are unusual (17.7%) and this result is consistent with the results of the 2018 survey. Despite the reputuation for childfree people to live an unconventional lifestyle, this finding suggests that a majority of our participants are monogamous.
84.2% of participants with partners of some kind have at least one childfree partner. This is consistent with the often irreconcilable element of one party desiring children and the other wishing to abstain from having children.

Section 8 : Childhood and Family Life

Overall, the participants skew towards a happier childhood.

Section 9 : Sterilization

While just under half of our participants wish to be sterilised, 46.3%, only 11.7% have been successful in achieving sterilisation. This is likely due to overarching resistance from the medical profession however other factors such as the logistical elements of surgery and the cost may also contribute. This is also a decrease from the percentage of participants sterilised in the 2018 survey (14.8%). 31.1% of participants do not wish to be or need to be sterilised suggesting a partial element of satisfaction from temporary birth control methods or non-necessity from no sexual activity.
Of the participants who did achieve sterilisation, a majority began the search between 19 and 29, with the highest proportion being in the 25-29 age group (33.2%) This is a drop from the 2018 survey where 37.9% of people who started the search were between 25-29.
The majority of participants who sought out and were successful at achieving sterilisation, were again in the 25-29 age group (37.8%). This is consistent with the 2018 survey results.
Over half of the participants who were sterilised had the procedure completed in less than 3 months (58.5%). This is a decline from the number of participants who achieved sterilisation in 3 months in the 2018 survey (68%). The proportion of participants who have had one or more doctors refuse to perform the procedure has stayed consistent between the two surveys.

Section 10 : Childfreedom

The main reasons for people chosing the childfree lifestyle are a lack of interest towards parenthood and an aversion towards children. Of the people surveyed 63.8% are pet owners, suggesting that this lack of interest towards parenthood does not necessarily mean a lack of interest in all forms of caretaking. The community skews towards a dislike of children overall which correlates well with the 81.4% of users choosing "no, I do not have, did not use to have and will not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis" in answer to, "do you have a job that heavily makes you interact with children on a daily basis?".
A vast majority of the subreddit identifes as pro-choice (94.5%). This is likely due to a high level of concern about bodily autonomy and forced parenthood. However only 70% support financial abortion for the non-pregnant person in a relationship to sever all financial and parental ties with a child.
45.9% identify as feminist, however many users prefer to identify with egalitarianism or are unsure. Only 8% firmly do not identify as a feminist.
Most of our users realised that did not want children young. 60% of participants knew they did not want children by the age of 18, with 96% of users realising this by age 30. This correlates well with the age distribution of participants. Despite this early realisation of our childfree stance, 80.4% of participants have been "bingoed" at some stage in their lives. Only 13% of participants are opposed to parents making posts on this subreddit.
Bonus section: The Subreddit
In light of the "State of the Subreddit" survey from 2018, some of the questions from this survey were added to the current Subreddit Survey 2019.
By and large our participants were lurkers (66.17%). Our participants were divided on their favourite flairs with 33.34% selecting "I have no favourite". The next most favourite flair was "Rant", at 20.47%. Our participants were similarly divided on their least favourite flair, with 64.46% selecting "I have no least favourite". Potentially concerningly were the 42.01% of participants who selected "I have never participated on this sub", suggesting a disparity between members who contributed to this survey and members who actually participate in the subreddit. To further address this, next year's survey will clarify the "never participated" option by specifying that "never participated" means "never up/downvoting, reading posts or commenting" in addition to never posting.
A small minority of the survey participants (6.18%) selected "yes" to allowing polite, well meaning lectures. An even smaller minority (2.76%) selected "yes" to allowing angry, trolling lectures. In response to this lectures remain not tolerated, and removed on sight or on report.
Almost half of our users (49.95%) support the use of terms such as breeder, mombie/moo, daddict/duh on the subreddit, with a further 22.52% supporting use of these terms in context of bad parents only. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe parents remains permitted on ths subreddit.
55.3% of users support the use of terms to describe children such as crotchfruit on the subreddit, with a further 17.42% of users supporting the use of this and similar terms in context of bad children only. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe children remains permitted on ths subreddit.
56.03% of participants support allowing parents to post, with a further 28.77% supporting parent posts dependent on context. In response to this, parent posts will continue to be allowed on the subreddit. Furthermore 66.19% of participants support parents and non childfree making "I need your advice" posts, with a further 21.37% supporting these dependent on context. In light of these results we have decided to implement a new "regret" flair to better sort out parents from fencesitters, which will be trialed until the next subreddit survey due to concern from some of our members. 64.92% of participants support parents making "I support you guys" posts. Therefore, these will continue to be allowed.
71.03% of participants support under 18's who are childfree participating in the subreddit. Therefore we will continue to allow under 18's that stay within the overall Reddit age requirement.
We asked participants their opinion on moving Rants and Brants to a stickied weekly thread. Slightly less than half (49.73%) selected leaving them as they are in their own posts. In light of the fact that Rants are one of the participant's favourite flairs, we will leave them as they are.
There was divide among participants as to whether "newbie" questions should be removed. An even spread was noted among participants who selected remove and those who selected to leave them as is. We have therefore decided to leave them as is.

5. Conclusion

Thank you to our participants who contributed to the survey. To whoever commented, "Do I get a donut?", no you do not, but you get our appreciation for pushing through all of the questions!
Overall there have been few significant changes in the community from 2018.

Thank you also for all of your patience!

submitted by CFmoderator to childfree [link] [comments]

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