Apr 182015

Earlier this week, the United Launch Alliance announced the development of the semi-reusable “Vulcan” launcher meant to replace the likes of the Delta IV. vulcan1Regardless of the merits or problems with this new design, there’s one issue that may cause prompt legal trouble:

Paul Allen Launches ‘Vulcan Aerospace’ to Boost Private Space Travel


Vulcan Aerospace will operate the “Stratolaunch” booster system now being built in California. vulcan3Vulcan Aerospace, it turns out, is part of Vulcan, Inc., which was formed in 1986 and has a trademark on the “Vulcan” name. vulcan4And Vulcan, Inc, seems like it wants to enforce that.vulcan5


You’d think ULA would have checked on that. vulcan7 The article says that ULA looked into the name and found no legal issues… but that seems to perhaps be not entirely correct.vulcan8


 Posted by at 3:03 am
Apr 172015

This took long enough:

Oklahoma Governor Signs Bill Allowing Nitrogen in Executions

Roughly 80% of the air you breathe in is nitrogen. Additionally, nitrogen is effectively inert… what you breathe in, you breathe out. Consequently, unlike carbon dioxide which is a biologically produced waste product, your lungs essentially ignore nitrogen. If the partial pressure of nitrogen goes up or down, your lungs don’t really care.

So if the nitrogen percentage goes up to 100%… your body doesn’t react. Unlike a small increase on CO2, your physiology doesn’t freak out. There no discomfort or pain with increased nitrogen. The only real effect if that it displaces the oxygen in your blood, and then in your brain. And the result of that is that within a few seconds, you simply pass out, and peacefully to most accounts. And within a few minutes, you are brain dead.

Breathing in nitrogen (or helium, freon, a few other gasses) is just about the most peaceful way to go. As a bonus, nitrogen is cheap, plentiful and easily produced. Unlike the chemicals used for lethal injection executions, nitrogen can be had from many, many sources. Unlike lethal injection chemicals, there’s no way to screw up nitrogen… just strap a mask over the face and turn it on. There is no such thing as a mammal that could possibly survive more than a few minutes on pure nitrogen, so there’s no chance of botched executions.

So why has it taken this long for it to be made available as a means of execution?

 Posted by at 5:01 pm
Apr 172015

Finally done modelling this thing. Took long enough!

2015-04-17d 2015-04-17c 2015-04-17b 2015-04-17a

The multiview layout drawing generated from the model would take a good deal of effort to clean up proper, but it’s needed for the “Nuclear Pulse Propulsion” book. Now that the model is very nearly complete (I need to convert each part, individually, into a separate STL file… bleah), I can devote more time to other stuff, including potentially getting back to work on NPP. But before I let the Messiah go entirely… anyone interested in large format blueprints based on the layout drawings?2015-04-17h

 Posted by at 1:34 am
Apr 162015

College Apologizes for Serving Mexican Food During Sci-Fi Event

In short: Stevenson College in Santa Cruz, CA, held a sci-fi themed “Intergalactic Night.” Along with a “well, i guess they tried” series of sci-fi decorations, they had food. In the form of  buffet. Of Mexican food. Because even in a sci-fi setting, tacos are awesome. But guess what? People got all offended. I gather the illegal aliens on campus got in a snit about the association between Mexican food and science fiction aliens.

So, of course, sensitivity training all around.

Kinda curious how this effort to separate Mexican cultural elements from science fiction would play into the recent effort to enforce diversity in the Hugo awards… hmm…

 Posted by at 9:48 pm
Apr 162015

The USGS has recently released new maps of the moon based on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data, both photographic and radar altimetry. They are things of beauty, and only 472 megabytes!

Image Mosaic and Topographic Map of the Moon

I think I might try to coax the rectangular portion out just on its own and have it printed off in large format. That’d look spectacular.

 Posted by at 10:55 am
Apr 162015

REVEALED: The signs and symbols burglars are using to mark YOUR home before breaking in

A police department in a town with the unlikely name of “Lanarkshire” has posted a handy guide to the marks that criminals are going to leave on *your* property, right before they break in, steal your stuff and kill you:


Assuming that this is in fact a real thing, it opens up a number of questions:

1) Why not just label your *own* home as “too risky” or “nothing worth stealing” preemptively?

2) Why not label your despised neighbors house as “vulnerable” or “good target?”

3) Why not label your *own* home as “vulnerable” if you are looking for some excitement, adventure and donor organs?


 Posted by at 10:26 am