Jul 292015

World’s most powerful laser beam blasts out from Osaka

The power output of this laser is said to be 1,000 times that of the entire worlds electrical consumption. The way it works is to concentrate all the energy of the shot into a single burst lasting a ridiculously short period… one picosecond. The total energy is only a few hundred joules.

The goal is to raise the power to 10 petawatts, or 10 quadrillion watts.

 Posted by at 8:10 am
Jul 292015

But is it in the 40 watt range?

The Military Will Test a New Terrifyingly Loud Noise Gun

In short: it’s a laser that focuses a nanosecond pulse in front of a target to cause the air to superheat into a ball of plasma and go BANG, at 130 decibels. So far the ranges tested have been short; development is needed to given the system useful range of 100 meters.

Expect to see this used not so much by the military, but by militarized police forces looking for a way to knock protestors off their feet.


 Posted by at 7:56 am
Jul 282015

This will be fun:

Chief Blackwell on UC officer’s body cam: I’ve seen the video, ‘it is not good’

Apparently one Sam Dubuse (reportedly father of *at* *least* 20 children) was stopped by police officer Ray Tensing. From there it gets fuzzy and contradictory. A claim is that Tensing wound up getting dragged by Dubose’s car. Whatever happened, Dubose was shot dead by Tensing; reports here and there say that Dubose got his face blown off (if this is true, it might indicate that he got shot in the back of the head). Tensing was wearing a body camera which recorded it. The video has not been made public yet, but the universal opinion of those who have seen it can be summed up with “Oh, F……”

Not sure really what the problem is. It might be that it shows the officer doing something Seriously Wrong. Or it might show substantial gore. Or it might be both. In any event, the local government is apparently trying to hold off riots.

 Posted by at 9:37 pm
Jul 282015

Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point

Highly steeped in the hypothetical, but it looks like a material made from the right amounts of hafnium, nitrogen, and carbon (HfN0.38C0.51) would have a melting point of 4,400 kelvin = 7,460 F. No data yet on the mechanical properties. If it’s a powder, that’s not so helpful, but if it’s a reasonably strong solid, it’d be handy for heat shields and the like. It’d be really nice if this could be used to make rocket engines.

 Posted by at 4:09 pm
Jul 282015

So, a few days ago news broke that a famous, and beloved, male lion in Zimbabwe had been killed by a trophy hunter. At first the hunter was reported to be a mysterious Spanish hunter, but now it has been claimed to be a rich dentist from Minnesota. A guy who plunked down $55 large for the utter joy of hunting a lion that, reportedly, was reasonably friendly with people.

Full disclosure: in general I’m fine with hunting and fishing and such. I eat as much meat as I can. But trophy hunting fills me with a distinct uncomfortableness. You want to hang a deer head on your wall? Well, OK, we’ve got lots of deer. But a *lion?* The world isn’t exactly overloaded with those. Plus… lions are a lot higher up the ladder than deer and gazelle and the like.

Well, beyond the “dude, why?” aspect of hunting a lion, it turns out that the hunt itself was apparently carried out illegally in several ways:

1) It was done at night, which was illegal

2) It was illegal to hunt the lion on the park the lion was in… so they tied a dead animal to a car and lured it out of the park, then shot it with a bow and arrow (or crossbow).

3) The lion had a GPS collar, which they removed and attempted to destroy

Well, the internet has discovered the guy and has begun the inevitable.

Here’s the Yelp review page for his dental practice ( currently… 60 5-star ratings, 7 4-stars, 14 3 stars, 17 2-stars and 1,664 1-star ratings). Their Facebook page has vanished. The practice’s webpage seems to be *sorta* functional, though it’s even lamer than mine and much of it seems to be broken. The dental practice was closed rather abruptly, and inquiries are being directed to a PR firm.

Its unclear that this guy broke any US laws. But it’s also clear that he’ll be taking a little break from making money as a dentist.

 Posted by at 11:45 am
Jul 282015

One of the last, if not the last, chapters in my Nuclear Pulse Propulsion book will be on NPP in popular culture. Mostly, of course, this means nuclear pulse spacecraft in science fiction… short stories, novels, TV, movies. These vehicles will get layout diagrams just like the non-fiction concepts.

With designs that are complex or difficult to really work out – which covers just about all fictional designs – I’ve found that it is a whole lot easier to build the vehicle as a 3D CAD model and then convert that into a 2D diagram. A bonus of doing it this way is that perspective views are also possible. So because why not, here are some of the fictional NPP’s that will appear in the book, along with the current status list for NPP diagrams (green means the diagram is done, yellow means it’s in progress, red means I haven’t started or haven’t gone beyond preliminary scribble). Some of the fictional designs, such as the “Orion Shall Rise” and the Tycho were drawn in 2D right from the get-go. Currently being pieced together is the Archangel Michael. It is a bit different from the usual depiction in a number of ways, most obvious being the straight shock absorbers. I understand the reasoning behind those designs that use angled and pivoting shocks to allow the pusher “dome” to swing with respect to the rest of the ship… but I still don’t agree that that’s a good engineering solution. Once you get the dome swinging, getting it to *stop* is going to be a friggen nightmare, especially if the ship remains under thrust. The dynamics of a spring system like this with that many degrees of freedom would be massively complex, never mind the actual mechanics. Oh well. Anyway, my “Michael” is still far from finished. The interior is only roughly sketched out, armament is currently rough and incomplete and secondary payloads need a lot of work.

In the final book, these fictional designs will get not only orthogonal views, but also to greater or lesser degrees “rationalization.” Some designs I can’t honestly make any real sense of, and thus they’ll get the bare bones. Some I can dream up a fair bit of (essentially fan fiction) explanation for, so they’ll get further detail work.

2d Sci-Fi-Model

 Posted by at 11:03 am
Jul 282015

A video is making the internet rounds that appears to be one thing that turns into another. The first thing: a model is being filmed on a Miami beach for a “fashion shoot.” In the process of this, a boat trundles up to the shore behind the model; the camerawoman turns off the camera because, of course, that’s not the background she wanted. But she turns the camera back on when the invasion force spills off the boat and starts sprinting up the beach. It *appears* that the boat was unloading a fresh supply of illegal aliens.

 Posted by at 8:22 am
Jul 272015

“Hot Toys” is a manufacturer of high-end (highly detailed, expertly sculpted, terribly expensive) figures and vehicles… superheroes, Star Wars characters, etc. They have recently revealed a Toy o the Millenium Falcon that nobody is quite sure if they are actually going to produce in any numbers and sell… a 1/6 scale version. At that scale, the toy is 18 *FEET* long, 12 feet across. Given that their 1/6 scale figures sell for hundreds of dollars each, I can only imagine that this Falcon toy would run you multiples of tens of thousands of dollars.

I’ll stand by my mailbox in case anyone wants to send me one.

“Star Wars Galaxy Exhibition Powered by Hot Toys” Kick Off

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 Posted by at 10:53 am
Jul 272015

First up:

Destroyer USS The Sullivans Damaged After Missile Explodes After Launch

An SM-2 Block III missile went BLAMMO just after launch, setting a fire on the ship.


Well, that’s embarrassing. But then the Russian Navy (Navy Day in Sevastopol) is not to be outdone:

Looks like the solid rocket boosters for an SS-N-14 “Silex” torpedo-carrying missile broke away just a little early.

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 Posted by at 9:34 am
Jul 272015

 French MP in Crimea “accidentally” bought the T-shirt “Obama, you – schmuck”

French MP Yves Pozzo visited Crimea and bought and wore for news photographs a T-shirt featuring images of Putin and Obama, with some text in Cyrillic, which he couldn’t read: “Обама, ты – чмо.” I have difficulty buying the notion that nobody in Pozzo’s group could read Russian to warn him that that might not be the best politics.

Original Russian-language article.

 Posted by at 8:16 am