Nov 232017

A damned convenient way to get yourself dead during World War I was to pop your head up above a trench. But if you wanted to shoot the enemy, you kinda *had* to pop your head up above the trench in order to aim your rifle. Unless you had a rifle equipped with a periscope.

One such arrangement was the “Cameron Yaggi 1903 Trench Rifle” which added a complex and heavy mechanism to the 1903 Springfield rifle.The mechanism included not only a periscope and a 25-round box magazine, but additional levers to allow you to operate the bolt “remotely.” The end result is kinda spiffy, though cumbersome, and was not adopted by the US.

The modern equivalent would be to put a digital camera on the rifle, live video being directed to a eyepiece via a cable or Bluetooth.



Of course, many countries tried a similar setup. Here’s a trench Mauser that tries to do the same thing, but without the ability to work the bolt remotely.

 Posted by at 6:31 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 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
Nov 152017

A while ago an ebay seller had a display model of a maneuverable re-entry vehicle, a warhead for an ICBM.There was apparently no documentation to go with it, so details are pretty much utterly lacking. Still, it does look reasonably likely to have been a “real” display model built by or for the USAF or a defense contractor. It’s simple… a cone with four sides shaved off with four added flaps for control. This basic geometry has been popular for maneuverable warhead concepts for decades; McDonnell-Douglas used a similar shape (explicitly stated as having been derived from their maneuverable MIRV studies) for their Delta Clipper SSTO, and an even closer shape for their X-33 and follow-on concepts.

 Posted by at 11:27 am
Nov 112017

A few weeks ago, some artwork was put on ebay showing an alternate concept for the Lunar Roving Vehicle. This one was apparently sold as being optionally manned, which would certainly be a useful feature. Especially if it could be teleoperated from Earth after the crew has gone home. Note that one of the illustrations shows the unmanned rover towing a two-wheeled cart loaded with nuclear power generator (an RTG); similar RTGs are shown hanging off the sides of an unmanned LRV, and two RTGs are shown in the distance in the illustration showing unmanned-to-manned conversion. What *may* be intended here is that the unmanned version would drive around under RTG power and charge up batteries; for manned use the RTGs are left in the distance and the things operates purely under battery power. If returned to RTG/unmanned prior to the crew leaving, then the LRV would have virtually unlimited range. With enough time, an LRV could even drive to another landing site and be there in time for a new crew to land and make use of it.

 Posted by at 10:16 pm
Nov 112017

NPR today ran an hour of interviews on the subject of “the West,” in the context of the clash of civilization between The West and, well, the non-West. The first interview was with Victor Davis Hanson who did a good job of defining just what is “The West.” The concept of The West is much like that of the United States… neither are based strictly on a geographic region, nor of a particular ethnicity or religion. Instead, *anyone,* no matter where born or raised or how indoctrinated, can become a Westerner by accepting the basic precepts of Westernism. Thus places like Japan and South Korea can be reasonable described as “Western.”

A New Clash Of Civilizations?

The precepts Hanson puts forward include:

  1. Free market economics
  2. Protection of private property
  3. Free speech
  4. Free expression
  5. Secularism
  6. Diversity of religion
  7. Emancipation of women
  8. Trust in rationalism and scientific inquiry
  9. Induction rather than deductive or religious superstition

Hanson also wrote about these assumptions a month and a half ago regarding the current fad for stuffing Columbus Day down the memory hole:

It is fashionable to trash the civilization that created Columbus as destructive and pathological, but those who do so often have never experienced the alternative first-hand or at length, and assume that their own prosperity, security, and protected freedoms are birthrights rather than fragilities that exist largely only in the West and Westernized Asia or emanate only from the Western anomalies of self-criticism, secular rationalism, unfettered inquiry, free expression, constitutional government, free-market economics, private property and religious tolerance.

Hanson ended that piece with this important observation:

In some strange reductionist and iconic way, the symbolic world of the Aztecs is romanticized — and left far behind; the world of Columbus is still demonized but constantly sought out.

This being NPR, though, this first good interview that defends the worth, value and importance of The West and argues for the preservation of it is followed by a series of interviews that smear the West and Westerners and those who support The West as being Nazis, rapists and Islamophobes. Because Of Course.

The final piece is about the history of contact between Elizabethan England and the Ottoman Empire. It’s interesting, but there’s one particularly telling bit. A British history professor, who has written a book on the topic, is asked by the interviewer to tell of the “wonderful stories” of Englishmen who “freely and openly converted to Islam.” And what’s the story we get? An English merchant named Samson Rolly (sic?) was kidnapped by Turkish pirates circa 1570, forcibly converted to Islam, *castrated,* and somehow winds up being the chief eunuch and treasurer of Algiers. Around ten years later an English ambassador asks Samson (now with a new name) if he wants to go home, and the guy decides to stay where he is. This “wonderful” story, which the professor chuckles his way through and calls “funny,” is the story of someone kidnapped, mutilated, brainwashed and deep within the throes of Stockholm Syndrome. And yet, it’s those who want to defend the West from exactly this sort of thing that are the bad guys in the bulk of the piece… and in a whole lot of modern culture.


Well, the first bit with Hanson is certainly worth a listen. If the embedded player doesn’t show up below, you can download the audio file HERE.


 Posted by at 5:56 pm
Nov 052017

Currently being sold on ebay is a display model of a missile, a “Martin ASM.” ASM almost certainly means “Air to Surface Missile,” but otherwise there’s no further info. Seller seems to think it’s related to the Assault Breaker project, but it looks vaguely like a Skybolt-ish air-launched ballistic missile.




 Posted by at 4:56 pm
Nov 022017

Using technology seemingly straight out of Star Trek, scientists have confirmed the existence of a pretty sizable void in the Great Pyramid on the Giza plateau. The discovery was made by, kinda using muons generated by cosmic ray impacts to map out density anomalies in the structure of the pyramid. At this time the resolution is insufficient to tell if the void is a true “chamber” or if there is Interesting Stuff in it (be it dead pharoahs, gold goodies, or relics from Atlantis or Chulak). But three things are certain:

1: This is Damned Interesting.

2: Physics is awesome.

3: The woo-ists are going to go monkeybonkers over this.

Stunned Scientists Detect Suspected Hidden Chamber Within Great Pyramid of Giza

 Posted by at 7:02 pm