Mar 262015
 

Before Skylab fell out of the sky, a lot of people wondered “why doesn’t NASA just send a Space Shuttle to rendezvous with it and use it as a space station.” In the end, Skylabs orbit decayed earlier than expected due to solar activity heating up the outer atmosphere, increasing drag on the station. Coupled with delays in getting the Shuttle up and running, time simply ran out.

But for a while, the idea of rescuing Skylab and making use of it in orbit made sense. McDonnell-Douglas, for example, turned in a proposal for modifying Skylab with a substantial upgrade in power by way of very large photovoltaic “wings.” This proposal was dated December, 1978, far too close to the July 1979 destruction of Skylab for the idea to have had any hope of implementation.

The McDonnell-Douglas plan would have added additional thermal shielding to the main workshop and a Spacelab module for additional volume. New thermal radiators and docking facilities for the Shuttle would also have been added.

Shuttle + skylab diagram small

The full-rez version of this diagram has been made available to APR Patreon patrons at the $4 level.

 Posted by at 3:26 pm
Mar 262015
 

Germanwings Co-Pilot Deliberately Crashed Airbus Jet, French Prosecutor Says

After a review of the cockpit voice recorder:

1) The pilot and copilot conversed normally until the plane reached cruising altitude and the pilot left

2) The copilot (one Andreas Lubitz, German 28 years old) was heard breathing normally from then on, but remains otherwise silent

3) When the pilot tries to get back into the cockpit, he has been locked out. The door is normally locked, but the crew have keypads to get in… but the pilot had been *intentionally*

4) Passengers can be heard screaming just before the crash

There are no indications that this was religious terrorism. The copilot remained silent during the 8 minutes he was alone; if it was terrorism, you’d expect the pilot to be babbling something akin to “Surt if Awesome” before murdering the plane. Additionally, you’d kinda wonder, if it was terrorism, why the pilot aimed for a mountain rather than, say, a city. But if it wasn’t terrorism… just what was it?

 Posted by at 8:59 am
Mar 262015
 

Blueprints of the “full scale mockup” of the Moonliner that used to stand at the Disneyworld Tomorrowland exhibit are being auctioned off. Fortunately, they have provided surprisingly high-rez scans of two 1954-vintage diagrams.

moonliner 1 moonliner 2

An interesting side note – old diagrams such as these, which I believe were reproduced via  the diazotype method, can be turned *directly* into passable Real Old School Cyanotype Blueprints by simply inverting the colors:

moonliner 2 blue moonliner 1 blue

As designed, the Moonliner is a fantastic bit of 1950’s optimism. A single-stage-to-the-moon vehicle? One technology might have made it possible: an atomic motor with a very high T/W and very little stray radiation leakage. It seems like such a mythical beast seemed possible into the early/mid 1960’s, when the realities of nuclear rocketry started to hit home.

The auction features a bunch of Disney & animation bits and pieces… including one production cel from “The Little Mermaid” that strikes me as possibly being NSFW. So, you know, don’t look at it, ya perv.

 Posted by at 1:13 am
Mar 252015
 

Is the universe on the brink of collapse? Study says catastrophic event is ‘imminent’

Holy crap! They said that the collapse of the universe is “imminent!” Did they really say that?

THE “catastrophic collapse” of the universe may be “imminent”, scientists have predicted.

Oh noez! Not “imminent!” I have stuff to do next week! What will human society do knowing that the universe could collapse at a moments notice? What would even be the point of waking up and goign to work? How long until civilization completely collapses?

In tens of billions of years – a relatively short time in cosmological terms – physicists claim the universe will soon stop expanding and collapse on itself, obliterating all matter as we know it. 

1hW2V1Yg

 Posted by at 11:05 pm
Mar 252015
 

Ladies: if you want to know why “feminism” has turned into a term of derision among a great many guys, read this:

Feminists told to use jazz hands at conference because clapping ‘triggers ANXIETY’

Organisers at the National Union of Students Women’s Conference made the request after some delegates reported feeling anxious during audience applause.

The NUS Women’s Campaign tweeted from its official account: “Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it’s triggering anxiety. Please be mindful!”

I have no doubt that there are some people who might have a panic attack or the like at the sound of a room full of applause. But here’s the thing: you don’t help these people by “appeasing” their weakness. Indeed, by going along with this request to not applaud, what you are doing is empowering the problem.

It’s a symptom of a much wider problem in society. Some people don’t like certain images, words or ideas… so society tries to cover up or outright ban those things to protect the delicate sensitivities of the more damaged members of society. And what do you end up with? The numbers of people who are easily offended seem to *grow.* And since there have been successes at banning certain expressions, those who wish to ban *other* expressions have that much more ammunition.

If you have anxiety issues so that applause makes you go bugbuts, here’s my thought: don’t go where there will be a lot of people applauding. Or, better yet: go. And toughen yourself up. Inoculate yourself to the thing that causes you trouble but which is perfectly normal in society.

Personal example: more than a  decade or so ago, I went to the doc to get some allergy tests, to try to figure out just what was going on with my lungs. Fortunately, the tests for allergies to cats (and birds, and horses, and dogs, and other critters) came back negative. But the test for various foods and plants? Hmmm.

The test is pretty straightforward: a nurse applies a grid to your forearm (I’ve heard other use the back). In each square, a small drop is applied This fluid is distilled essence of allergenic evil from, say, cat dander or ragweed pollen or whatever. The nurse then gently pricks the skin with a fine needle under the drop. Wait a few minutes; if you have an allergy, the skin under the drop will grow a little bump. The nurse goes away for something like ten minutes, leaving you to watch your arm in suspense.

In the case of my “plants” test, suspense turned to concern. A *lot* of little bumps started rising up. And they kept rising. Then they merged like small towns becoming a metroplex. Then tendrils reached out and started to wrap around my arm, looking for all the world like I had a small spawn of Cthulhu growing under my skin. When the nurse popped her head in the room and asked how I was doing, I held up my arm and asked “is this normal?” The fact that she *screamed* and ran away suggested to me that it was not. The specialist was on the scene moments later. No harm done, but man, did that itch.

Basically, if it’s a plant, I’m allergic to it. Another more limited test was done on foods, with the same sort of result. One of the first food-bumps to rise, and the one that seemed to be the worst, was “peanut.” I recall being amused by that since for lunch I had had a PB&J sammich. I grew up eating peanuts. Hell, I just had a handful a  few minutes ago. Apparently I am deathly allergic to the damn things… but they don’t bother me in normal concentrations. Why? Dunno. But I can bet that it is because I’ve eaten so many of them that my system has gotten used to them. You know what would not have benefited me any? Demanding that everyone around me avoid peanuts. Not only would that have made me (more) unpopular, it would inevitably fail. One day, after living peanut-free for years, I’d bit into a cookie made with peanuts, or someone with peanut butter on his breath would talk to me… and I’d go into anaphylactic shock.

Feh.

Sure, I can understand not applauding at a feminist convention, just on general principles. The whole shindig just sounds *dire.* But replacing applause with *jazz* *hands*? Bah.

 Posted by at 8:07 pm
Mar 252015
 

Huge asteroid capable of wiping out entire country is on near-collision course with Earth

omg_kitty2

A mammoth asteroid measuring 1,000-metre wide in on course to narrowly miss Earth within days, NASA predicts.

The object called ‘2014-YB35’ is predicted to skim the Earth on Friday travelling at more than 23,000 mph in space.

oh-noes-everybody-panic

Any impact would trigger devastating changes in the climate, earthquakes and tsunamis.

onoz_omg2onoz_omg2onoz_omg2

Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap! Whatever shall we do? However shall we survive? Should I start butchering random hobos and turning them into jerky to sustain my pack of mutant attack cats through the years-long fimbulwinter which is to come? Can no-one save us?

This rock is forecast to pass within 2.8 million miles – a tiny distance in astronomical terms – of Earth on Friday

 

multifinger

 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Mar 232015
 

An artists rendering of a solar power satellite under construction. This idea was popular for a while in the mid/late 1970s during the energy crisis, and generally called for satellites generally compared in size to Manhattan island.

This image was apparently created by NASA in 1976. The thinking at the time was that these structures could certainly be built within the 1990’s; I often wonder at what the people who were working on them would have thought at the time had they somehow found out that, nearly 40 years later, precisely zero effort would have been made to see SPS come to pass. A higher-rez version is available HERE.

sps construction

 Posted by at 11:39 pm
Mar 232015
 

Yes, that’s right… Denmark.

In short, the Danes are in talks to join the incredibly limited NATO ballistic missile defense system. This system, if it works, would be capable of defending Europe against a *seriously* limited missile strike… such as could be produced by the likes of Iran. It would be able to accomplish approximately *diddly* against an all-out Russian attack.

The Danes would contribute perhaps one frigate equipped with advanced radar. As a result the Russian ambassador to Denmark wrote in an op-ed:

“I do not think that the Danes fully understand the consequences of what happens if Denmark joins the US-led missile defence… If this happens Danish warships become targets for Russian nuclear missiles.”

 

Denmark could face attack if joins NATO shield: Russian ambassador

 Posted by at 4:50 pm