Sep 282011

Iran planning to send ships near U.S. waters

The DoD is stated to have not had a public reaction to the announcement that the Iranian navy is going to send military ships to the east coast of the US, in response to the US having ships in the Persian Gulf. Personally I hope the DoD doesn’t react *at* *all.* Just ignore ’em.

But I do also hope that someone like Donald Trump *does* react. Not angrily, but to recognize this as a business opportunity. Follow the Iranian ship around with a chartered cruise ship. Turn it into a floating party. With blackjack. And hookers.

 Posted by at 9:51 am
Sep 282011

You have got to click on the link and check out the photos of this… contraption.

China: Awesome gentleman builds homemade flying contraption powered by eight motorcycle engines

It’s a “flying platform” along the lines of the Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee, but with a whole lot more engines, a whole lot more propellers, and a whole lot more canvas and zip-ties holding the thing together.

 Posted by at 9:44 am
Sep 282011

A nifty video showing the dropping of a Slinky. While that may not sound all that exciting, when seen in super slo-mo, you can see that the bottom end of the Slinky stays perfectly stationary while the Slinky drops, until the collapsing tops part reaches it. At first glance this may seem counter intuitive, but it actually makes perfect sense.

The bottom part of the Slinky – and indeed every part of it – is initially held stationary as the result of the balancing of the force of gravity pulling it down and the tension in the spring holding it it. As the Slinky is released at the top, there is no more tension force at the top, so it begins to react purely to the force of gravity. But the spring is still stretched out, exerting a tension force at every point along its length…  a tension force perfectly balanced by gravity. So as the top continues to fall, more and more of the spring is of course collapsed at the top end, removing the tension… but only for that length of the spring which has been collapsed. The balance of tension and gravity remains precise for all those portions of the Slinky where the spring has not collapsed.

[youtube eCMmmEEyOO0]

The interesting thing is that this same physics holds for *all* objects that are held at the top and then released. A Slinky is a good demonstrator because it is is so stretchy… but if you had a sufficiently fast and precise camera, you’d see the same result whether the suspended+dropped item was a Slinky, a baseball bat, a steel I-beam or a brick. In the case of the latter items, the effect would be far harder to see… they are not very stretchy at all, but every object made of normal matter does stretch at least a little bit when tension is applied.

 Posted by at 12:54 am
Sep 282011

In recent decades, the first “A” in NASA – “Aeronautics” – has received the short end of the attention and funding stick. At the same time, aeronautics has not exactly leaped forward. Feel free to draw a link, or conclude that “correlation does not equal causation.” Whichever makes you happy.

Still, NASA has been pushing industry a little bit in the last few years for advanced jetliner ideas. Mostly the goal is for low fuel-cost airliners; in order to be more PC, these are being sold more for their supposed environmental friendliness than their lower cost of operation. In any event, the designs have included not only alternate fuel designs (such as hydrogen) but even all-electric jetliners… whopping great battery packs which would be swapped out between flights rather than conventional refueling operations.

Lockheed has been working on this as well as Boeing. While Lockheed hasn’t built an airliner since the L-1011, they’ve retained some interest in SST’s, occasionally cranking out a design for a large passenger jet or a small corporate jet. But the economic collapse and the increased price of oil have pretty much put the kibosh on those plans. But they’ve also produced artwork for subsonic designs. While diagrams and good technical data have so far evaded me, some art is available showing a high efficiency subsonic concept. The future is entirely conventional in appearance, but box wings of high aspect ration have replace the conventional wing and tail. Suspended from the aft wing are turbofan engines of extremely high bypass ratio. The result should be a design with impressive fuel economy.

 Posted by at 12:53 am
Sep 272011

In the years just after WWII, Consolidated tried real hard to get the airlines to buy their Model 37, AKA the C-99. This cargo version of the B-36 bomber featured a big fat pressurized two-deck fuselage, and as a passenger liner could carry 204. While the fuselage was about 3/4 the size as that of the modern Airbus A-380, it only carried a quarter the number of passengers… partly due to weight restrictions, but also importantly because the passengers were not crammed in like sardines. There appears to have been this semi-mythical thing called “legroom” incorporated into the design… and for those who paid extra, actual *rooms.* Much like trains, you could get a sleeping berth and some privacy.

United Airlines ordered 15 of them. Sadly, the airliner did not enter service… the piston engines were not very economical, and turboprops adequate to the task were problematic. It would have been an expensive maintenance hog… but it would’ve been the queen of the skies.

 Posted by at 2:20 pm
Sep 272011

A blog reader came through on the BluRay screenshots from “2001,” and they proved to be a lot better than my own DVD screenshots. Not terribly surprising, of course. They revealed a lot of details that were previously just small blurs. That’s good… lets me be accurate. That’s also bad… it shows me that the Station had a *lot* of little detail bits.

Here is a render of part of the model showing the current state of things. The greeblies on the spokes are completely different, and the spokes now feature additional cables running along the surface. The inner surface of the rim now features a good chunk of the detailing it needs… the broader strokes are in place, but a boatload of greeblies are needed. Windows are now punched into the rim surface… these windows are accurately placed.

My hope here is to end up with a Space Station V model that anybody would look at and say “yup.” The beauty of CAD is that after all the work is done, when the kit master parts are printed and cleaned up, the molds are made and the kit in production, I could theoretically always print out a bigger version. I’ve seen a number of people online making large-scale Space Station V models, either for themselves or intended as kits… around 30 inches diameter seems to be the general consensus. Not sure where I’d put a model that big, and I *know* I couldn’t afford to print one off that big… but it’s nice to know that it’s always a possibility.

 Posted by at 1:48 pm
Sep 252011

A few days back, in the comments section to THIS POST, I posted a link to a PDF paper refuting the statistical method underlying the claim of very-slightly FTL neutrinos produced over Europe way a little while back. A few things have happened since then. Primary one, the same feller has retracted that paper, and published a new one, where he admits that *he* made mistakes in his analysis, and that the CERN group got it right in the first place.

Second thing, I looked at this guys webpage. Ummm.

More specifically, look at the root home page:

Boils down to whackjob conspiracy loonies… Apollo was a hoax, 9/11 was an inside job, something or other about the JFK assassination coverup. Gah.

That’s what I get for not surfing the web deeply enough.

 Posted by at 10:26 pm