Jun 262015

A blog reader provided this scan. It comes from the archive of the Imperial War Museum, and was all alone in its folder… what you see is all there is. It appears to show a rocket powered “rammer,” with a massive armored nose for slamming into enemy bombers. The pilot is provided with an easy-bailout ramp, presumably to be used after aiming his plane at a target but before impact (I would *not* want to be in at thing when the actual ramming occurs). Presumably dates to WWII. The style of drawing looks like a patent drawing. My guess is that it was a patent submitted by Just Some Schmoe during the war, and is not a serious concept by a reputable design firm, but I don’t know for sure. If anyone has firm data, please advise.


 Posted by at 4:09 pm
Jun 252015

Should have posted this nearly a month ago, but…

The rewards for APR Patrons for May, 2015 are available (for the next few days, anyway, until I finally get the June rewards out). Included this month:

Document: An early 60’s NASA concept for a most unusual launch vehicle (which appears to have been scribbled on by Werner von Braun)

Document: Trident rocket motor manual

Document: Boeing arctic resource aircraft

Diagram: Convair VTOL tailsitter supersonic fighter

CAD diagram: Rockwell “Surprise Fighter” early stealthy design

2015-05 ad

If you’d like to access these and many other extras, please check out the APR Patreon page.



 Posted by at 9:55 am
Jun 242015

Found on ebay a while back was a translation of a WWII-era German report on the Dornier P 232/3 design. This was a proposed derivative of the Dornier Do 335 fighter… while the Do 335 had a piston engine in the nose and another in the tail, the P 232/3 replaced the tail engine with a turbojet. This would have chewed through the fuel in a hell of a hurry, but it also would have increased top speed. Mixed propulsion fighters like this enjoyed a brief burst of popularity for a short span of years immediately following WWII, but apart from some prototypes nothing really came of them.

The ebay sale helpfully provided some good scans of some diagrams.

833041490_o 833041554_o

 Posted by at 10:33 pm
Jun 242015

Just as the future will provide technologies that are unknown today, there will be lawsuits that are unknown today. Your personal robobutler goes bonkers and steals your jetpack and crashes into the neighbors flying car, that sort of thing. Of course, that one is pretty obvious. But one occurred to me today that I wonder how far the legal system is away from dealing with…

Psychopaths and other assorted nuts have been in the news in recent years when they go off and shoot up a church or blow up a crowd. Of course lawsuits will come, as victims sue the criminals, but also of course there won’t be much to collect.

I doubt that it will be too long before genetic and/or hormonal tests are developed that tell you if someone is psychotic (and boy won’t that be fun when politicians are challenged to present test results). And not long after a test like that is developed, it will be refined to test embyros, either in test tubes or in utero. And here’s where things could get interesting.

Let’s say a couple decades from now Lil’ Jimmy goes bugnuts with a 3D printed phaser and evaporates half his classmates. As the lawyers cackle with glee as they rub their hands and dig through every financial record to see who can be sued for how much, they find that Lil’ Jimmy’s parents conceived artificially. And in the course of testing the embryos prior to implantation, it was found that one of them had the markers for psychopathology, and yet they went ahead with gestation.

So… can the parents be sued for  knowingly bringing a violent nut into the world? *Today* such a lawsuit wouldn’t fly as babies are by and large the products of random genetic mixing between the parents and nobody knows whether any particular embryo poses any particular risk to society. But it probably won’t be long before those change.

So when “designer babies” are a thing, or even just complete genetic readouts of embryos are a thing, will the creation of babies who have known genetic traits for dangerous behavior lead to liability on the parents part?

 Posted by at 10:13 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 242015

Science fiction media is filled with representations of laser weapons hitting living targets. But since we don’t actually know what an event like that would look like, the effects folks have to imagine the results. And they are all over the place. Sometimes the laser cuts the the victim like a hot knife through butter. Sometimes it just leaves a scorched entry wound. Sometimes the entry wound explodes. Sometimes the entire victim explodes. Sometimes the victim is vaporized.

Part of the reason why we don’t know what a laser-weapon-strike would look like is because we simply don’t have meaningful laser weapons. Things like the “blasters” from Star Wars or the “phasers” from Star Trek are *probably* in the hundreds of megawatts to gigawatt range in power output; and while such lasers exist, they are the size of buildings and have firing times measurable in nanoseconds, often enough. And besides, even if someone could set up a series of experiments where some government-funded gigawatt laser was used to blast targets just to see what would happen, somebody would get all snotty if living targets were used. Shocking, I know, but even though our prisons are full of rapists and murderers and jihadis and televangelists and Illinois politicians and the like, Hollywood for some reason can’t park ’em in front of a laser cannon and flip the switch to “on.”


So, the best we can do, for the moment, is subscale experimentation. It’s not perfect by any stretch; no matter how powerful your laser, if the pulse is really, really short, the actual depth of penetration into a target is going to be extremely limited. The first outer layer gets blasted off and turned to gas; if enough power is dumped into that gas it’ll turn incandescent, and will absorb all further incoming laser radiation. A laser cutting right through a human body almost instantly is almost certainly Not Gonna Happen. Even if the laser could somehow punch straight through, all that flesh and blood would be instantly converted to gas. So if you had a hole five millimeters wide by, say, eight inches long suddenly poked through your torso, the flesh and blood that *used* to be there will *explode.* You’d be blown apart, an effect that Hollywood can certainly reproduce, but that might jack up the MPAA rating.

So here we have some extremely high-speed, good quality video showing numerous laser strikes on droplets of black ink. The droplets are *vastly* smaller than your average human victim of a dastardly alien space pirate attack, but there might be something to learn here for those looking to film just such a scene. Or, it can just be some really cool video of lasers blowing up ink droplets. Don’t need to overthink everything, I suppose.

 Posted by at 2:33 pm
Jun 242015

London Tesco branch pulls Ramadan smokey bacon crisps promotion


Who doesn’t like bacon?

Realistically, there’s probably less actual pork in those Pringles as there is in the *air* in the can. I imagine the whole thing is 90% dehydrated tater, 9% salt, and 1% synthetic flavoring made using chemical elements not yet recognized in the periodic table.

I bet these’d go great with a haram sandwich. rimshot2

 Posted by at 9:48 am
Jun 242015

I’m looking for a program (preferably free, of course) that I can use to not only simulate orbits, but determine the effects on those orbits of various propulsive maneuvers. This, as might be obvious, if to support Pax Orionis, so I can get the orbital mechanics of maneuvering in Earth-Moon space correct.

Back in my college days I did this sort of thing for fun using paper pencil and calculator. Because what’s more fun than working out how the gears of the  universe actually turn, using your own brain? But here I think a computer system would be better purely for the interests of efficiency.

I don’t need anything fancy, just something I can use.

 Posted by at 12:32 am
Jun 232015

Yesterday a blast of charged particles from a solar flare struck Earths magnetosphere a mighty blow, producing impressive aurora. However, while I was keeping an eye out for it, it showed up only very irregularly, and the best of it occurred while the moon was still up.

I’ve seen the northern lights her in Utah before, but it has always been just at the edge of naked eye visibility. But last night for just a moment, a bit of it really jumped out. Only barely caught it on camera, and then it faded away.

DSC_1227 DSC_1215

The night before I caught the Andromeda galaxy above a tree with a jetliner nearby. I was hoping the jetliner would go through Andromeda, but…


Here’s the neighborhood late last night looking west. The sky is lit up hell-red due to the lights from ATK and the moon beyond.


 Posted by at 8:22 pm