Both sides build lots of rockets. One side builds crappy rockets used to randomly attack civilians, the other side builds these:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Iron Dome is just plain impressive. The rockets are fairly small, though *far* from the smallest anti-missile guided interceptor (I was aware of but not involved in the abortive development of an interceptor system to be mounted on vehicles to protect them from RPGs and anti-tank missiles and the like… the missile wasn’t much bigger than a softball, with an intercept range of *yards*). They are cheap, as such things go, and apparently quite effective… Israel could make  a ton of money by selling this system to allied nations. Bump up the capability some, make them better at intercepting missiles built by enemies more advanced than Hamas, then mount ‘em on ships and boats. One wonders what the *smallest* boat is that could carry a complete system; small speedboats could spread out and form rings around aircraft carriers and the like.

MILITARY: Israel’s Iron Dome rocket shield

Fingers putting the moves on Raedthinn. Raedthinn… not caring.

WP_20140825_003 WP_20140825_004

Use it to separate the people around you! Those who get it, and those who didn’t get a science or engineering education.

My friend Power has been stressed out all week. His boss keeps making him work overtime.

I’d meant to include this “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” strip yesterday, but forgot:


In summation:

And similar and related:

There is much truth in this. However, the extended truth is that once the engineering conference is over, and the engineers have to go back to their jobs working under the direction of business majors, they see “what could be” turned into “nah, sounds like we’d have to actually spend some of our own money, forget it.”

Still, ya also give credit for both cleverness *and* appropriate caution to the people involved in this.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

An interesting YouTube channel with a number of recordings of “space audio,” or plasma and radio emissions recorded by spacecraft and converted to sound.

Space Audio

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

This one just *screams* “Forbidden Planet.”


A whole lot more at the link.

Prescription painkiller deaths fall in medical marijuana states

It seems overdose deaths from opioid painkillers (morphine, oxycodone and heroin) have dropped up to 33% in the 23 states that have passed medical marijuana laws. The article claims that researchers don’t know why this is, but come on… the answer pretty much presents itself. Pot is supposed to make a pretty good painkiller, with relatively few negative side effects, and overdosing on it is apparently damn near impossible (discounting the highly concentrated forms available via “pot brownies” and the like). Opioids, on the other hand, have all manned of negative side effects including some pretty horrible addiction issues.


FYI: just in case anyone cares, I’ve no use for the stuff. Not my schtick. But if Utah passed a legal marijuana law… hell, I have a few extra acres, there seems to be some money in that particular crop…

But somehow I don’t see Utah jumping on the marijuana bandwagon anytime soon. Oh well.

As the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970′s ground down the American economy and jacked up the cost of transportation, many studies were made of alternative propulsion systems. For cars and buses and the like, electrical systems were at least theoretically feasible, though even today fully electric ground transport remains problematic. But electric aircraft were out of the question. Similarly, jetliners could not be retrofitted to burn coal or wood, or run off solar power. So that limited the options. One available option was liquid hydrogen. Long since proven on rockets, liquid hydrogen had been used to power jet engines in an experimental capacity. In theory it makes great jet fuel… lots of energy, and produced with no need of oil whatsoever (a nuclear reactor and an electrolysis system can do it, though there are more efficient means). But there were two major down sides: it’s a serious cryogen, requiring vacuum dewars for storage, and the density is pathetically low. Thus a jetliner would need fairly gigantic fuel tanks.

Lockheed of course studied the idea, using their last commercial airliner, the L-1011, as the basis. One concept called for giant fuel tanks to be carried on the wings, making the plane look almost like three aircraft flying in close formation; another idea was to stretch the fuselage and insert propellant tanks in front of and behind the passenger compartment. This would of course separate the passengers from the pilots. Also studied was the same idea but for an L-1011 freighter, artwork for which is shown below.

The idea would have almost certainly worked. But it would have been a logistical headache of the worst kind. None of the existing airport refueling infrastructure would have been usable, and the crews would have to be especially trained. Jet fuel can be stored in simple tanks; liquid hydrogen needs much more careful management to minimize boiloff.

lh2 l-1011

Honestly, the world would be much better off if the lib arts types took a more engineering approach to the world. In engineering, there might not always be a “right” answer, but there are almost always very definitely wrong answers. And sometimes, there *are* stupid questions. Consider:

Should we call ISIS ‘evil’?

Ummm… how is this even a concern?

The author of the piece, one James Dawes, director of the Program in Human Rights at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, seems to be one of those who ulcerates publicly for a living. Consider:

There is only one good reason to denounce a group as evil — because you plan to injure them, and calling them evil makes it psychologically easier to do so.

Errrrmmm… no. The world is *full* of evil people. Check out the nearest supermax or the nightly news. Are we planning on injuring them all? Nope. For example, I have precisely zero interest in injuring Hitler, what with him being dead and all, yet I can recognize that he was evil. Speaking of which…

The Wall Street Journal editorialized that this evil ideology will only be stopped when “enough of its fanatics have been killed.” But if we’ve learned anything as a nation since our “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq, it is this: While invasions and bombing can be effective in the short term, they are not durable solutions to terror-based violence.

You know, how was the Nazi regime ended? By dropping vast numbers of bombs and pissed-off Russians on them, that’s how. And we called the Nazis evil, then and now.

What this professional yammerer seems to not be able to grasp is that recognizing that someone is evil and calling them that does *not* preclude you from attempting to understand their motivations. What calling them evil *does* do is force you to not simply shrug off what they’re doing.

That’s the problem between STEM thinking and lib arts thinking, I think. Engineers and scientists want to find the answer. Here it is, quantified, in black and white with the data to back it up. The lib arts seem to favor a squishy ‘no wrong answer” worldview. That’s what makes STEM harder: there *is* a wrong answer. An infinite number of them, in fact.

“I’ve contracted ebola. Should I visit the western doctor, or the acupuncturist, or the chiropractor, or the faith healer, or the shaman?”

“Someone is shooting at me. Should I call the cops, or duck, or run away, or shoot back, or run towards them screaming wildly, or hold up a white flag and try to engage them in philosophical debate, or just stand up and turn the other cheek, or purple monkey dishwasher?”

“We seem to have an energy shortage. Should we build new advanced nuclear powerplants? Or shut down the ones we have? Or encourage conservation while also encouraging mass immigration?”

Some answers *may* be wrong. Some answers *are* wrong.

Fortunately, there may be another possible way to deal with ISIS than by sending in our own troops. It is summed up in this headline from today:

Boko Harum declares northern Nigeria as the Islamic Caliphate, just like ISIS has done in Syria and Iraq, and since Caliphates are kinda like Highlanders in that there can be only one, you know what that means: CALIPHATE FIGHT

Years ago when I worked at ATK on the Ares I and Ares V booster programs, I put forward an idea. It was a simple and, I thought, fairly obvious notion, based on a few facts:

1) Weight growth is generally to be avoided in space launch. However, if the weight gained is on a booster stage rather than an upper stage, the performance penalty is much reduced.

2) Not every flight would make full use of a launch vehicles potential. Given that propellant is essentially free, compared to the rest of the costs involved, it makes sense where possible to carry extra payloads if you can.

3) A secondary payload on the booster stage is, these days, of minimal interest, but would also be minimally payload-impacting

So here was my idea: on launches of the Ares V booster that did not make full use of the launch vehicles potential, carry “parasite” payloads on the solid rocket boosters. The payloads I had in mine? Paying passengers. The idea would be to put a capsule, or perhaps something akin to Space Ship One (fat fuselage with just enough wing to fly and land), on the nose of the booster. Just after booster separation, the capsules would themselves separate from the boosters.

Since they would be very distinctly sub-orbital, heating issues would be relatively trivial. Since the flight duration would be only a few minutes, onboard life support would also be minimal. As a result, the capsules could be spacious, relatively lightweight, and equipped with *big* windows.

If each booster carried a capsule, and each capsule seated ten passengers, and each passenger paid, say, $100,000, then each flight would generate an extra $2 million. Not much considering the probably $1Billion price tag of each launch, but hey… why not? Some launches could charge more, such as historically important flights to the Moon or Mars or such. How much would *you* have paid to hitch a ride alongside Apollo 11, for example?

And what would the passengers have seen? Lessee:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Needless to say, they didn’t think much of my idea. Grrr.

(Is this post a repeat? Maybe. Seems like I’ve yammered about this before. oh well.)

© 2014 The Unwanted Blog Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha