Jun 262011

Hack charge teen Cleary ‘is autistic’

Short form: British hacker hacked the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the British Phonographic Industry, and was apparently working on a “botnet,” malware which would take over a bunch of cumputers and use them to wreak further havoc.  He was also apparently in LulzSec.  Since his arrest, he’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Now, look. Asperger’s Syndrome appears to be a Real Thing. And while it can make a mess of a person – it can certainly ruin ones chances of a decent social life – one thing it does *not* seem to do is mess with ones sense of right and wrong. It just… makes you kind of an asshole. And being an asshole is *not* justification for criminal activity, not an extenuating circumstance.

 Posted by at 6:34 pm
Jun 262011

My cell phone is relatively antiquated… something like 4 or 5 years old. And it still works! It has a camera built in, as pretty much every phone does, but I’ve hardly ever used it. Why use a phone to take photos when I have perfectly good cameras? Still, I was curious about the image quality that the phone camera would generate, so last evening I took a portrait of one of the cows I wandered past along the road:

Meh. I’ll stick with the *real* cameras.

 Posted by at 1:59 pm
Jun 262011

The Convair Model 200 was a 1973 design similar in some respects to the F-35. While stealth was lacking, it was designed as a single-engined jet fighter than could be built in both VTOL and CTOL (Model 201A) configurations. For VTOL, the single Pratt & Whiteny JTF22A-30A was equipped with a  nozzle that could vector down 90 degrees (as the F-35 engine does), and had an additional two 10,500 pound-thrust lift engines behind the cockpit (the F-35 has a single lift jet). The CTOL versions eliminated the lift jets and the engine nozzle vectoring. Top speed was about Mach 2. Span was 27 ft 10.5 in; length was 51 ft 1.5 in.

The Model 200 was put forward in a  US Navy competition for a smallish VTOL fighter than could be carried by the Sea Control Ship, the small aircraft carriers the Navy was planning at the time. Niether the Model 200 nor the SCS were built; but a competitor to the Model 200, the Rockwell XFV-12, was built… and failed miserably.

 Posted by at 1:54 pm
Jun 262011

Included in this video is film of the test flight of an early electric VTOL recon RPV. In order to look over trees and terrain, this vehicle would be launched from an armored personell carrier and would fly up with a  TV camera. However, the technology simply wasn’t quite there for a free-flight vehicle… so it could only fly as far as the extension cord and TV coax cable would allow it to.

[youtube oKWpm3SESps]

Come for the promise of interesting weapons concepts… stay for the stilted acting and shots of clearly unhappy scientists and technicians. Oh, and the bongos. Don’t forget the bongos. When you see “Produced by the US Army,” you of course immediately think “I’m gonna hear some beatnik banging on bongos.”

 Posted by at 8:35 am
Jun 252011

In 1961, before the Saturn V had come into being even on paper, the question was “how will we land on the moon?” The general assumption was that we’d use the “direct” approach. In other words, the manned vehicle would land directly on the lunar surface. No dedicated Lunar Excursion Module, no lunar orbit rendezvous. The Apollo capsule itself would form part of the luanr lander, and would have to be launched from the luanr surface. This meant that the lunar lander would be, compared to the LEM, fairly enormous. Which meant that the launcher would need to be either fairly enourmous… or there would need to be multiple launchers.

In October of 1961, NASA-Lewis produced a presentation showing several options. The obvious approach was the use of the Nova class rocket. This would be a large but conventional rocket with eight F-1 engines on the first of four stages. While shorter than the later Saturn V, the notional Nova described would have a gross weight close to 50% greater, at 9.6 million pounds.

An alternative approach would use the Saturn C-3. The C-3 concept used two F-1 engines (later versions used 3) on the first stage; twice as capable as the Saturn I, it still fell far short of being able to do the job on its own. So two Saturn C-3s would be needed per mission. The first C-3 would launch a liquid oxygen “tanker”  into Earth orbit; the second would launch the actual lunar landing spacecraft. After topping off the LOX tanks of the lunar lander & upper stage, the spacecraft would go on about the mission. The total launch weight would be substantially reduced to 4.8 million pounds.

A third approach was proposed. A single Saturn C-3 would be used. But this time, the upper stages would be equipped not with A-3 (i.e. early RL-10) rocket engines, but a single nuclear thermal rocket. Equipped with a large liquid hydrogen propellant tank, this single booster would be able to carry out the whole mission. Launch mass was again substantially reduced, this time to 2.4 million pounds.

 Posted by at 10:39 am