Jan 312018

A fanciful late 1950’s Martin Company illustration of a space station. This rendering features a large parabolic solar reflector to concentrate sunlight onto a boiler to run a turbogenerator for electricity, a hockey-puck shaped habitation section (you might think it was meant to rotate, but there are windows in the floor *and* a group of astronauts seemingly standing on the side of the thing, somehow not getting flung off), some standard 1950’s gee-whiz rocketships and something at far right that I can only describe as “a thing.” Maybe it’s meant to represent the radiator for the solar generators working fluid, but if so, it seems a terrible design. Maybe it’s the death ray.

 Posted by at 5:04 am
Jan 302018


Using AI to uncover ancient mysteries

The Voynich Manuscript is a centuries-old (early 1400’s) book of gibberish and odd illustrations. It has been untranslatable… until perhaps, now. An artificial intelligence system was taught hundreds of languages to figure out their patterns, then fed the Voynich manuscript… and it determined that it was written in coded Hebrew. With that understanding, the letters were found to be coded into alphagrams, where the letters in words are re-ordered into alphabetic order (Example: “example” becomes “aeelmpx”). The result is that 80% of the words are clearly Hebrew, and sentences are, if not really clear, at least comprehensible as being non-nonsense.

It still requires analysis by people who actually understand old Hebrew to make the book make any sort of sense, but it’s interesting to see that machines have cracked this old mystery.

 Posted by at 12:02 am
Jan 292018

Russia warns Poland not to touch Soviet WW2 memorials

Sure, everyone remembers that the Nazis invaded Poland in early 1939. But what seems to get conveniently forgotten is that the Soviet Union *also* invaded Poland, in mid-September 1939. This was not to combat the Nazis, but to claim their piece of Poland for the USSR. So it should hardly come as a surprise that the Poles are less than thrilled at the self-glorifying memorials the communists left to the USSR all over Poland.

That the Russian government is threatening sanctions over the removal of monuments to pure evil is evidence that the current Russian government is… a bit “off” when it comes to right and wrong.


If the German government started going on about how Hitler wasn’t that bad of a guy, and gee, sure would be nice to have some monuments to his achievements in, say, Poland, people would rightly freak out a bit about the future of Germany. The same applies to Russia. This sort of thing makes me hopeful that the US will start developing new ICBMs and nukes. Hell, so long as I’m dreaming… Orion spacegoing strategic weapons systems.

 Posted by at 12:04 am
Jan 242018

This music video dates from 2017 and was made to promote “Guardians of the Galaxy 2.” It is by definition a product of the 21st century. And yet… and yet, they managed to accurately capture the screaming horror that was 1970’s disco. I was honestly torn between laughing my keister off and doing my best George C. Scott “turn it off, turn it off” impression and throwing the computer across the room. If you are too young to remember the 70’s and always wondered what it was like…  behold, ye younguns, and despair.

 Posted by at 4:13 am
Jan 232018

Currently winging their way from Ukraine to yours truly are two vintage brochures on the Antonov 225. These were picked up on ebay, purchases made possible by patrons of the APR Patreon. These brochures will in due course end up on the APR Patreon catalog, to be voted for as possible monthly rewards for the patrons.

If you’re interested in helping to preserve this sort of aerospace artifact, and also interested in getting high-rez scans of them, consider signing on to the APR Patreon.


 Posted by at 6:40 pm
Jan 192018

There are those in NASA who have had the crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, NASA should live up to its mandate and actually move outwards into the cosmos. In order to do that, you need power, and until magic comes along, nuclear power is best power. Yesterday there was a media event in support of the “Kilopower” initiative to develop one-to-ten kilowatt nuclear power reactors. Given that the SP-100 project to develop 100 kilowatt reactors began on the order of 40 years ago, one kilowatt seems kinda unaggressive…but given that right now the United States has *no* kilowatt reactors under development for space power… I’ll take it.



 Posted by at 6:51 pm