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
Oct 282017

Here’s an odd thought:

Did Ceres once have an ocean?

The dawn spacecraft has detected minerals that seem to indicate that there was once liquid water on the surface. By “once,” that means “4 billion years ago.” The evidence indicates that there is still substantial water bound upon the surface “rock” of Ceres, with the possibility of meaningful amounts of liquid water still existing under the surface.

But with a surface gravity of only 0.029 g, back when it had an ocean it must have been a bizarre place. That’s far too low a surface gravity (more specifically, far too low of an escape velocity) for Ceres to have retained any sort of atmosphere. Air would quickly just… drift away to space. So the ocean must have been in a constant state of near-boiling, with an astonishing evaporation rate. The atmosphere must have been largely water vapor; the atmosphere would blow away, forming a cometary tail likely to have been pretty impressive. This would have been while planets like Earth were still in the process of being formed, so the entire solar system would likely have been a busy place, with *lots* of giant comet-like objects like Ceres.


 Posted by at 8:44 am
Oct 222017

Twenty six years ago, in 1991, the USAF ended the long practice of keeping nuclear armed B-52s on 24 hour standby ready to launch at a moments notice. The practice ended because the Soviet Union had collapses and the Cold War was finally over; at last there was no more threat of being nuked into oblivion by power-mad socialists.

Ah, good times.

US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert



 Posted by at 9:45 pm
Oct 222017

A rare piece of color art depicting an early Dyna Soar being dropped from a B-52. The Dyna Soar is equipped with two rocket engines used to boost it to higher altitude and higher speed (supersonic, though not very supersonic… think the test flights of the M2-F3 and the HL-10). Note that this shows the Dyna Soar having been tucked into a modified bomb bay in the B-52’s fuselage; planning would soon move the Dyna Soar to under the wing, using the same attachment point used by the B-52 to carry the X-15 and the lifting bodies.


 Posted by at 7:22 pm