Nov 202017

ESO Observations Show First Interstellar Asteroid is Like Nothing Seen Before

Asteroid 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua) turns out to have been reddish – like a lot of outer solar system objects – and had a length-to-diameter ratio of about ten. Funky. Overall length of about 400 meters, no detectable gas or dust, indicating solid rock and/or metal. Tumble rate was once per 7.3 hours.

Irrational hypothesizing:

1: It’s Gungnir.

2: A starship, long dead.

3: A planet killer, badly targeted.


 Posted by at 6:04 pm
Nov 182017

A recent acquisition from ebay was a pretty good B&W glossy showing a Martin Company illustration of the Titan IIIC launch vehicle, circa August, 1964. One of the better Titan IIIC illustrations I’ve seen, showing the innards to good effect.

I have uploaded the full 600-dpi scan to the 2017-11 APR Extras Dropbox available to all $4 and up APR Patreon patrons. It’s in two formats… the raw scan, and a cleaned-up version that looks better. Also included is the press release printed on the back of the glossy. If you are interested, take a look at the APR Patreon and consider signing up.

 Posted by at 10:20 pm
Nov 162017

There are certain actors, actresses, actrons and acting units who you know aren’t *really* *good,* as such, but they’re just damned entertaining to watch nonetheless. Dwayne Johnson, aka “The Rock,” is one such… largely because you can tell that he’s generally having a blast doing whatever goofy thing he’s doing.

The forthcoming “Jumanji” movie looks like it’ll be one such entertaining flick. But perhaps even more so, the movie “Rampage,” due out in April and based on the old arcade game and directed by the director of Johnson’s disaster extravaganza “San Andreas,” looks like a hoot and a half. The addition of Neegan to the cast sure can’t hurt either.


 Posted by at 6:59 pm
Nov 162017

The top and middle engine loops are basically done and detailed. The bottom engine loop has been resculpted, but needs detailing. Once that’s done I’ll head back to the hull to start working on more details. The shuttlebay will almost certainly be modeled closed as at 1/1400 scale it’s really, really small. However, I’ll probably still work out the basics of it… because I want to get a 1/350 version milled out.

 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Nov 162017


Fisker has filed patents for solid-state batteries

So what makes this newsworthy? The claims:

  • 2.5 times the energy density of current batteries
  • A car would have a 500-mile range
  • It would take only one minute to charge that car
  • Cheaper than lithium ion batteries
  • Lower risk of fire

The target is electric cars. But 2.5 times the energy density means laptop batteries that last far long, cell phones that last for days, electric aircraft from drones to airliners, man-portable lasers and railguns/coilguns capable of meaningful performance.


 Posted by at 9:52 am
Nov 152017

A new potentially Earth-like exoplanet has been announced, Ross 128 b. It’s 10.89 light years away (12th closest star system to Earth), the planet masses about 1.35 Earths and is in the inner edge of the habitable zone, getting about 1.38 time the solar radiation as Earth. Ross 128 is a red dwarf, so:

1: the”year” is only 9.86 days

2: The planet very probably doesn’t have a moon due to the close distance to the star

3: The planet is probably tidally locked, or in some rotational resonance

Fortunately, Ross 128 is a very quiet and well-behaved red dwarf, unlike Proxima Centauri which is constantly having massive flares. So while Proxima b almost certainly has long since had any atmosphere stripped away, Ross 128b, if it had an atmosphere, has a good chance of still having it.

Ross 128 is also an old star, meaning lots of hydrogen and helium and little else. Which *may*mean that the planetary system *may* also be low in the heavier metals. So even though Ross 128 b is more massive than Earth, if it doesn’t have as heavy of a nickel-iron core, the bulk density could be far lower and the surface gravity could be Earthlike. But without a metal core the chances of a magnetosphere are greatly reduced, especially if it only rotates every 9.86 days. Without a magnetosphere, the atmosphere has undoubtedly suffered and the surface will be badly irradiated.

 Posted by at 10:26 pm
Nov 152017

Leonardo da Vinci Painting Sells for $450.3 Million, Shattering Auction Highs

“Salvator Mundi” was sold at auction in London in 1958 for a whopping £45.

It’s not in great shape. For centuries it was not known to be a da Vinci, and apparently some of the attempts to clean it were less than stellar. Still, someone thought it was worth the better part of half a *billion* dollars.

Some neato features: the face is in “soft focus,” while the hands are clearly in focus. The crystal orb shows a number of internal flaws. But I don’t know about the view *through* the orb; I would think that the hand and cloth behind it would be far more distorted. This might indicate that the artist – presumed to be Leonardo da Vinci, and boy howdy won’t the buyer be annoyed if it turns to to not actually be a da Vinci – didn’t actually have a true crystal ball at the time and was just guessing about how it would distort the image.

 Posted by at 10:10 pm