Aug 312012

Sometimes plans go awry. For example… in 1963, NASA was well on the way to building the Saturn V. The Saturn V was a giant of a rocket, far bigger than what was actually available at the time. But there was no reason to believe that development of ever bigger and more capable launch vehicles would stop with the Saturn V. And so plans were in place for the “Nova” rocket. While a vast number of wildly different designs were produced, in general they were all capable of putting about a million pounds of payload into Earth orbit.

 Posted by at 9:34 pm
Aug 312012

From the “why did this take so long” file:

Squatting set to become a criminal offence

In short… up until now, if you lived in Britain and left your home unoccupied overnight, someone could break the locks, wander in and take over (basically stealing your home, all your stuff, your whole life), and the police were powerless to stop it. Crazy as it sounds, until now if someone were to do that to you, and late one night you broke into your own home and beat the squatters to death, stuck their heads on pikes in the front yard and tossed their corpses into the nearest garbage bin, *you* would be the one held legally to account. I’m not entirely sure that the change in BritLaw would not allow for this particular praiseworthy public service to be considered legal, but one step at a time.

 Posted by at 9:00 pm
Aug 312012

At the same time that some of us have a heightened sense that the US FedGuv is *not* doing the sort of forward thinking, society-advancing stuff that it should, such as conquering the universe, it is actually paying people to produce baldercrap like this:

State Department: ‘Hold down the fort,’ other common phrases could be offensive

“Rule of thumb” is also verbotten.
 Posted by at 2:02 am
Aug 302012

NASA has just signed a small ($100 K) study contract for a “ninja star” shaped jetliner. It would be a pointy cruciform in plan view; at low speed the longer axis would be the wing and at high speed the shorter axis would be the wing. To accomplish this, the jet engines would need to rotate 90 degrees.

Supersonic Flying Wing Nabs $100,000 from NASA

This is not an entirely new idea. In the 1970’s Boeing studied a similar concept… supersonic aircraft with single-pivot  rotating wings that would present long wings for low speed and short wing for high speed.

And it goes back even further. in 1963, former German aircraft designer Richard Vogt filed a patent via Boeing for a “TWO POSITION VARIABLE SHAPED WING” based on the same idea. The patent drawings seem to show a supersonic transport.

 Posted by at 6:40 pm
Aug 302012

Tony Chong of Northrop Grumman has posted an article on the mid-1960’s Northrop Truck-Airplane-Boat concept. The TAB is exactly what it sound like: A flying truck-boat. Or a roadable seaplane. Or a seaworthy roadable aircraft. However you want to look at it.

Northrop’s TAB for All Seasons

Go there, read and be amazed. Lots of art, photos and diagrams. It actually looks so easy. And it looks like it’d make a profoundly awesome recreational vehicle.

And I can’t *possibly* be the only person who, on reading “Truck-airplane-boat” suddenly thought of this:

 Posted by at 1:46 am
Aug 292012 premieres song — from Mars

Rapper can boast of an accomplishment that is out of this world: His latest single premiered from Mars, making it the first song to debut on another planet. … The tune — which aims to encourage youth to study science — completed a trip of more than 300 million miles from Earth to Mars and back, according to NASA.

If NASA truly wanted kids to study science, it wouldn’t give them pop musicians. It would give them a GOAL. Kids didn’t swarm to the sciences in the fifties and sixties because Elvis or the Beatles told them to; they did because NASA was fricken’ going to the Moon, and they wanted to be a part of it.

 Posted by at 10:07 pm
Aug 292012

If Mitt Romney really wants to win, he’d simply take Reagan’s 1980 convention speech, and do a global find/replace of “Carter” with “Obama.” At least pilfer the bit at around the 16 minute mark.

[youtube RmmgVFByeaI]

This is damned fine statesmanship right here. But somebody needed to go through the crowd with a stun gun and put down the yahoos with the horns.

 Posted by at 3:36 pm