Mar 312015

Russian analyst urges nuclear attack on Yellowstone National Park and San Andreas fault line

The “analyst” is one of those loons who thinks the US and the West are out to destroy Russia. And so he’s proposing to develop weapons systems designed specifically to kill a large fraction of the population of the United States as a way to bully the US into not protesting when Russia gobbles up its neighbors.

From the Google Translate version of the original Russian-language piece:

What’s in the US? First of all, attention is drawn to Yellowstone National Park, located in the caldera of the same name supervolcano, which, according to geologists, close to the period of its activation, which occurs at a frequency of 600 thousand years. About as long ago there was its last eruption. The power of this supervolcano several orders of magnitude weaker than the Siberian, so it has not led to the eruption of mass extinction of living creatures on the planet as a whole, but for the Americas this eruption was undoubtedly disastrous. Geologists believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano could explode at any moment. Signs of growing its activity there. Therefore it suffices to push the relatively small, for example the impact of the munition megaton class to initiate an eruption. The consequences will be catastrophic for the United States – a country just disappears. All of its territory is covered with a thick (several meters or tens of meters) layer of ash.

Another vulnerable area of ​​the United States from the geophysical point of view, is the San Andreas – the break length of 1300 kilometers between the Pacific and North American plates. It passes along the coast of the territory of the State of California, somewhere on land and partly under water. Are parallel to the faults of the San Gabriel and San Hosinto. This is an area of ​​geophysical instability generating earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.5 on the Richter scale. Impact powerful enough nuclear weapon can trigger catastrophic events that can completely destroy the infrastructure of the United States on the Pacific coast-scale tsunami.

Sometimes ya gotta wonder if you’re paranoid *enough.*  The one bright spot I’m seeing right now is that even while the current administration seems determined to see the US weakened, that administration will be out of office in less than two years. Hopefully to be replaced with an administration that is sane, sober, wise and devoted to keeping America strong, safe, and, hopefully, dedicated to conquering the heavens. Or at least not getting in the way of American private enterprise as *it* conquers the heavens.

 Posted by at 8:05 pm
Mar 312015

Some weeks back, the American news media found a new obsession: frat boys singing a racist song on a bus. Those few seconds of video of kids acting like dumbasses were broadcast an uncountable number of times, jabbered about by talking heads nonstop, and splashed all over newspapers and the internet. As a result, college careers were disrupted, some ended, and undoubtedly careers were ruined before they began.

Another story has very recently hit the news: a short video showing a guy riding a subway train is approached, asked about a political issue and when he refuses to express an opinion is beaten by several people while the rest of the passengers on the subway stand back and laugh. Obviously since I’m linking to a news item on it, it’s getting *some* press. But here we have a story that’s more than “singing on a bus with racial overtones,” we have “physical violence on a train with racial overtones.”

St. Louis man assaulted on public transportation after declining to discuss Michael Brown

A secondary thought: what we have here is violence perpetrated upon a person ostensibly because he refused to give a political opinion. This would therefore seem to be violence against certain political views. Is that not terrorism? Well, two of the perpetrators have been arrested, which is good… but what do you think the chances are that terrorism charges, or federal hate crimes charges, will be applied here?

But my main prediction: the stories that have already been published about this incident will prove to be pretty much *all* that is published about this incident. Unlike the “racist song on a bus,” this case that featured actual crimes, actual violence and an actual victim, as well as being one incident in what is an actual real problem in society, this story won’t be splashed all over everywhere.

 Posted by at 10:05 am
Mar 302015

The idea of antibiotic-resistant bacteria fills me with an uncomfortableness. A cut or an unfortunate fluid-swap that could leave you with a virulent bug that medical science can’t effectively is bad enough. But now our single-celled little buddies might be getting enthusiastic and ambitious…

Humans at risk for airborne ‘super bugs’

In a study slated for publication next month, he and Texas Tech University colleague Greg Mayer may have made their biggest discovery yet: DNA from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in cattle feedlots is airborne.


 Posted by at 10:54 pm
Mar 292015

Yesterday on the road I caught a tune on the radio with lyrics something along the lines of “you’ll remember me for centuries.” It got me thinking of similar expressions I’ve heard of late regarding the Germanwings crash… a lot of people, lacking any better explanation, think that the co-pilot was suffering from depression and decided that rather than just shooting himself in the privacy of his own home decided to take out a plane full of people so that he would be “remembered forever.” Maybe that was his thinking. But… he won’t be.

People committing horrific acts are a distressingly common occurrence. But how often does society *really* remember them? Sure, *some* remain household names generations later… John  Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin. But others fade *fast.*If I asked you to name the “Aurora theater shooter,” how long would you have to think about it? The Newtown shooter?  Colombine massacrers? There were nineteen hijackers on 9/11. Quick: name five of them.

Then there were the guys who dressed up in body armor and robbed a bank in Los Angeles a few years ago. The guy in the McDonalds with the AK-47. The Achille Lauro hijackers. The cult leader in Japan who had his followers set off nerve gas. Any of the “we’re taking this plane to Cuba!” hijackers. The DC snipers. BTK. The Egypt Air copilot who crashed *his* plane. Sure, we all remember the name of Mao… but how about his Generals, or the myriad of functionaries who carried out the acts of democide that characterized Chinese Communism?

If you’ve got a *good* memory… sure, you can probably recall them. Or if you have access to Google or Wikipedia. But for the most part, these people make a dent in the news cycle, and then fade. Once the legal wranglings are over and out of the news… they get shoved out of the public consciousness. Hell, who remembers any of the mass murderers from the 1870’s?

So if you are a nutjob who wants to be remembered forever… killing a bunch of folks ain’t gonna do it. Even if you pull it off, your chances of being remember more than a decade down the line by more than a few family members and historians is lower than the chances of some random high school jock actually Making it In The Big Leagues.

 Posted by at 12:47 pm
Mar 282015

A while back One-Eye’s last kid, ingeniously nicknamed “Junior,” developed a limp. Such things typically go away on their own, but after about two weeks this one did not and he was basically a tripod making zero use of his right front leg. So I managed to corral him and take him to the vet. That… was an entertaining experience.

First, the trip to the vet involved a very angry cat in a box:


When I finally got to see the vet in the examination room… man, I *really* wish I’d had my camera running on video. Remember, this was a cat who had decided that one-half of its front paws was not worth using. Suddenly, this was SuperCat, jumping all over the room. First he tried to climb the blinds in the window. The windows ran from a foot or so above the floor to well over my head. To keep him from destroying the blinds, the vet and I rolled them up… at which point Junior vertical-leaped from the ledge below straight up to the the rolled-up blinds at the top of the window. Which he grabbed on to with both sets for front claws and dangled. After a bit he dropped down to the floor, jumped up to the examining table, then leaped *over* the vet to grab onto the door jamb over the main entry door, which he hung from for a while. It was… a thing of glory. That cat was the very embodiment of the concept of “oh HELL no.” I hadn’t laughed that hard in I don’t know how long.

The vet asked me to leave the room. Which I did, and stood outside listening to the sitcom sounds of things being knocked over and destroyed. This went on for a while before the vet could put Junior back in the box. At that point the vet came out with him, took him in the back and gave him a shot, a mix of pain killers and antibiotics. Vet decided that the most likely cause of the limp was one of those infected cysts that cats seem to get all the time. Giving Junior his shot was another exercise in amazing feline anger and required some  tools I’ve only ever seen used on rabid pit bulls and the like.

The end result was that Junior was *EXTREMELY* unhappy on the ride home:


I debated whether to let him cool off in the box or just let him go; in the end I just released him. He became a small black blur, heavily redshifted, headed for the horizon. The vet assured me that the chances were good that that would be the last time I’d see him, that he’d go find somewhere else to live without the scary giant monsters who tortured him.

A few days later he was back, sans limp. Since then I’ve seen him regularly… but he is not friendly towards me. I don’t think he likes me anymore. Though I do note that he still eats the food I give him.

 Posted by at 10:12 pm
Mar 282015

I’ve had a stack of fiche and a number of rolls of microfilms sitting around doing nothing for a decade and more due to a lack of ability to get good images off ’em. Every scanner I came across out in the wild would only do two-bit black-and-white scans, which turned the already dubious image quality into useless mush; efforts to capture the images via photography were roughly equally useless. Fortunately, at long last, I found that the University library up in Logan has microform scanners that do proper grayscale. So today I blew a number of hours digging through some old periodicals (“Space World”) and making scans. At last I can get half-ass decent copies of a whole bunch of German V-2 diagrams, among other things.

a-4 071nuke 232 focke wulf 013 saturn test 1 saturn test 3

The image quality still kinda blows compared to good scans taken directly off the documents, but this is about as good as it’ll get for microfiche.

For those of you too young to remember microfiche and microfilm: these technologies were… you know, screw it. If you’re too young to remember these, get off my damn lawn. You’re probably like all those college-goin’ youngsters at the library today who were wondering “what’s that creepy old guy was doing at that mysterious machine that none of us ever use?”

 Posted by at 9:43 pm
Mar 282015

OK, right up front: What Freeman Dyson meant when he first described the concept now called a “Dyson Sphere” was that a civilization sufficiently advanced would build so many space habitats and solar power satellites that the cloud of ’em would blot out the star they orbit. Since the artificial structures would re-radiate the sunlight they receive as lower-energy infra-red (basic physics: if you want to maintain a stable temperature, total energy coming into the system needs to precisely balance total energy leaving), from the outside the Dyson sphere would appear dark… but in infra-red it’d be a great big glowing thing.

The idea of the vast cloud was quickly interpreted as a giant solid “bubble” around the star. This vast construct would absorb all of the suns output, and would result in a monumentally vast place to live. If the star was much like the sun, the Dyson Sphere would need to be at least one AU in radius to keep the temperature roughly Earthlike. But there are of course problems: primary of which is that no material known to science, theorized by science or even guessed at could withstand the stresses involved. Additionally, there’s the problem of gravity. There would be none on the inside of the shell, except for that produced by the star; if you stood on the inside of the shell, you’d fall “up” into the sun. If you stood on the outside of the shell, you’d still have the suns gravity pullign you down… but at 1 AU from the star, that gravity would be miniscule. The gravity added by the sphere itself would be vastly more miniscule, given that its mass would be a tiny fraction of the mass of the star. So to live in or under a Dyson sphere with a Sol-type sun, you’d need artificial gravity habitats, either rotating structures or whatever magical “gravity generators” you can scrape up.

But a new type of Dyson sphere has just been described by two fellers from the Department of Physics of Bogazici University, Bebek, Istanbul, Turkey. Instead of building the shell around a Sun-like star… build it around a white dwarf. The resulting shell will be far smaller if it is to be at the “habitable zone,” since white dwarfs are far less luminous than main sequence stars. But a side benefit here is that the reduced Dyson sphere radius (depending on the white dwarf… from about 2,000,000 km to a bit over 4,000,000 k) results in surface gravities right near Earth normal. So humans would be able to comfortably live on the surface, using energy intercepted within the sphere to provide illumination.

The down side is that the problems of physical stresses within the Dyson sphere, already bad with the 1-AU-type sphere, become much worse at the smaller radius and higher gravity loading. But presumably by the time humans are ready to tear planets apart to build shells around distant stars, we’ll have made important advances in the field of materials science.

Download the PDF file of the paper here:

Dyson Spheres around White Dwarfs

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Mar 272015

A major purpose of the APR Patreon is to fund efforts to procure and preserve some of the interesting aerospace ephemera that pops up on ebay. I have scored some stuff, but other items have slipped through my fingers. Such as this auction:

NASA’s Space Shuttle Orbiter Original Engineered Plans, Pictures and Artifacts

shuttle1shuttle2 shuttle3 shuttle4 shuttle5

See, now, this is pretty much *exactly* the sort of thing I’d like to go after. There was just one small problem with this auction. A minor trifle, rally, hardly worth mentioning…

Starting bid:
US $25,000.00
So…  where can I find 25,000+ people willing to pitching in at least a buck a month?
 Posted by at 6:47 pm
Mar 272015

I have made some adjustments to the Aerospace Projects Review Patreon campaign. The first is that I’ve reduced the number of rewards levels, which I was informed was previously Too Many. More importantly, I have added some new rewards: if you become a patron at $5 or more per month, you receive 10% off all future purchases of APR, US Aerospace Projects and downloadable Documents and Drawings. If you become a patron at $10 per month, you will receive 20% off any such purchases. Check of the APR Patreon here:

Additionally, the campaign has reached the point where the rewards are now *three* aerospace documents, one high-rez historical diagram and one all-new CAD diagram per month. This is in addition to the random “Extras” I throw in for $4 and up patrons. The most recent extra is a full-rez restoration of a three-view diagram of a 1978 McDonnell-Douglas concept for modifying Skylab to be serviced by the Space Shuttle. You can see a smaller-rez version of that here:

If you sign up now you will get the latest rewards which include:

  • A Bell Aircraft presentation on the SR-126 Bomber Missile, a manned ICBM predecessor of the Dyna Soar
  • A Lockheed paper on the history of the Polaris to Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile
  • A large poster illustrating the missiles and rockets of the Orbital Sciences Corporation
  • An all-new CAD diagram detailing the 10-meter Orion nuclear pulse propulsion vehicle designed by General Atomic for the USAF
 Posted by at 6:36 pm