Jul 112015

Yello’s “Oh, Yeah” came out thirty years ago today. It was awesometime in the world of music.

Get off my lawn.

(This post was written and scheduled and forgotten March 4. Let’s see if I’m still alive in July! Has the world blown up yet? Do we have jetpacks and flying cars?)

 Posted by at 12:58 am
Jul 052015

New Horizons Team Responds to Spacecraft Anomaly

The spacecraft suddenly went into safe mode and communications was lost for an hour and twenty minutes yesterday. It’s back up and running, but as yet they don’t know what went wrong. And it will be unable to collect science data for “one to several days.”

Just ten days till Pluto flyby. After nearly a decade in flight, to have it start going screwy *now* is not only nerve-wracking, it’s also perfect conspiracy fodder.

Prediction 1: If the probe ultimately fails, expect it to be because THEY Didn’t Want Us To See What Those Spots Are.

Prediction 2: If the probe succeeds, but the spots turn out to be mundane… The Shutdown Was When THEY Turned Off The Spacecraft And Turned On The Fake Image Generator.

Friggen’ Yuggoth.

 Posted by at 8:39 am
Jun 282015

Well, this isn’t so good. It’s not the usual sort of explosion, where there’s a very sudden fireball and the vehicle turns into confetti in a split second; this disaster seems to be stretched out over a few seconds. It kinda looks like there was a fuel or oxidizer dump from up front… perhaps the second stage. Also early on in the “anomaly” you can see something drop away from the vehicle. I wonder if perhaps that’s the Dragon capsule? The disaster was good and slow… *perhaps* the abort systems got the capsule away. But I’d imagine if that was the case the booster itself would have *promptly* turned into so much tinfoil.

UPDATE: A tweet from Elon Musk says that there was an “overpressure event” in the second stage LOX tank. Cause was “counterintuitive.”

Another angle:

 Posted by at 8:51 am
Jun 272015

Remember that demonstration you must have seen at least once in high school or junior high when your chemistry teach blew a cloud of something seemingly harmless like flour through a small flame, and created a big ol’ fireball?

Like so:


Seems like not everyone got the memo on that.

More than 225 injured in explosion at Taiwan water park

Seems a big cloud of powdered dye or paint or something was blown over a crowd at a concert. Result: firey hijinks.



 Posted by at 12:48 pm
Jun 242015

Hard to tell just how serious some of these people are…

A Dinosaur Name in ‘Jurassic World’ is So ‘Racist’ That the Movie Has Come Under Fire

Specifically, the Pachycephalosaurus. There is a line in the movie describing some of them having gotten out of their enclosure: “The Pachys are out of containment.”

So, some schmoes have taken it upon themselves to get offended because some people over in Britainland hear “Pachy” as “Paki,” and see “Paki” as an offensive term for “Pakistani,” I guess in much the same way that “Brit” is an offensive term for “British.”

 Posted by at 5:08 pm
Jun 182015

“Racial profiling” is one of those concepts that cause peoples heads to explode. But there are times when certain types of profiling seem like they might be advisable. Consider, for a moment, the example of last nights shooting at a church in Charlston. The suspected killer, Dylann Roof (who has reportedly been arrested… alive, somewhat surprisingly), posted this photo of himself to his Facebook page:


Gee. Who could have *possibly* looked at that face and gone “huh, somethin’ ain’t right with that guy.”








Like it or not, “crazy whackjob” seems to have a vaguely definable but blisteringly obvious visible profile.

 Posted by at 9:05 am
Jun 132015

Today I worked on replacing some window screens. The old ones had fiberglass screen; as the cats (specifically, Fingers) proved skilled at slicing through that, I decided to replace them with aluminum screens. Without thinking of what I suppose might in retrospect have been an obvious eventuality, I worked on the screens where the cats could get at them. And unfortunately, that meant that at least two of the cats (Raedthinn and Buttons) decided that the thing to do was to gnaw upon the resulting thin-gauge aluminum “wires” shed from the screens after trimming. In Buttons’ case, I managed to catch him and grab hold of a wire that was projecting 1/4 inch from his mouth… and proved to be about four inches long. So it was nearly fully swallowed. Who knows if he or another cat might have successfully swallowed some of the wire.

Being aluminum, I wonder if any such wire could survive long in the cats stomach? The hydrochloric acid should convert the aluminum to aluminum chloride and  hydrogen; water in the stomach should react with the aluminum chloride to produce aluminum oxide and more hydrochloric acid. Since the aluminum oxide is about as inert as a substance can get, it would seem that hydrogen gas would be the only product of note.

Of course, this assumes that the wire stays in the stomach long enough to get reacted away. If it passes through… I don’t think this will have a happy result. So, I suppose I’m off to the vet in the morning to see what they say to watch out for.


 Posted by at 1:43 am
Jun 122015

I’ve never been a big fan of the Soviet Buran space shuttle. The Energia? Awesome heavy lifter. But the Buran itself… dumb, dumb, dumb. All it was was a terribly heavy, terribly expensive payload shroud. It would greatly reduce the payload potential of the Energia without adding anything meaningful. With the US Shuttle, at least you’re getting back the liquid rocket engines. With Buran? Meh.

Still, the Buran and its stablemates were an important part of space history. Thus, the way they have been allowed to rot is shocking.

Gentlemen… behold:

In the bedroom of the god

A sizable photo essay showing the status, as of a few days ago, of two Burans remaining in a Baikonur Cosmodrome hangar. Just… wow. And Gah.


 Posted by at 6:12 pm