Aug 272015

You’d think that basic math would be a part of a journalists edumacationization. Prepare to be surprised:

NASA Says Three Feet of Sea Level Rise Is Unavoidable


Ocean levels around the world have risen about three inches since 1992 thanks to warming temperatures owing to the burning of fossil fuels. Now, new NASA research shows sea levels will likely rise three feet in the coming decade, and it’s too late to do anything about it.

But then…

“It’s pretty certain we are locked into at least three feet of sea-level rise, and probably more,” Steve Nerem, lead researcher on NASA’s Sea Level Change Team, said on a conference call Wednesday. “But we don’t know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer.”


Friggen’ factors of ten, how do they work?

 Posted by at 9:56 pm
Aug 272015

Today I picked up four large format scans from a local print shop. All were scanned in full color at 300 DPI; the B-52 diagram was so large that I had to reduce it in size a bit – from 300 to 250 DPI – to make it work in most of my image processing programs. Still… with an original 110 inches long, scaling down a bit really isn’t much of a loss.

First: a Boeing model shop diagram of a B-52B display model at 1/40 scale. Model shop diagrams are often the best bets for clear, accurate aircraft diagrams.

1-40 scale B-52 BW 1-40 scale B-52

Second, an old Boeing diagram of the Model 80 trimotor:

Boeing Model 80

Then the USAF “supersonic escape capsule” which sure looks a lot like Fat Man:

supersonic escape capsule

And then a Rocketdyne diagram of the Atlas booster rocket engine:

Atlas booster engine

These will likely be offered up to APR Patreon Patrons. If you want in on that, and to help out on the effort to procure these things (trust me, they’re *not* cheap!), please consider signing up for the APR Patreon.


 Posted by at 7:17 pm
Aug 272015

One of the best Star Trek movies, 1999’s “Galaxy Quest,” is in early development as an Amazon series. No word on cast or story, but it seems that the original creative crew is onboard, which is a good sign. I doubt any of the major actors from the original would be gettable for a series, so I suppose they’ll all be recast.

Thing is, a Galaxy Quest follow-on, either a sequel to the movie or a reboot, could go in two wholly different directions:

  1. The story of actors from an old sci-fi series, abducted by aliens to run an actual spaceship
  2. The actual “Galaxy Quest” TV series.

I would be ok with either version, to be honest. And what might be neat… they could do *both.* Alternate episodes: one episode is set in, say, 2016 showing the washed-up actors out in space; the next episode could be a “vintage” 1985 (or whenever) episode of “Galaxy Quest,” complete with cardboard sets, cardboard acting and napkin-thin plotting and writing, with appropriately crappy special effects. Have, of course, the same actors playing both roles. Since it’s likely that the show would have to have the occasional callback to the original old crappy TV series, a lot of the sets and costumes and makeup and cheesy rubber-suit aliens and whatnot would have to be developed anyway. So might as well use ’em.


Galaxy Quest TV series landing at Amazon

 Posted by at 3:18 pm
Aug 272015

A music video for the Chemical Brothers “Sometimes I Feel So Deserted” features a damaged and apparently homicidal android…

It’s light on plot and exposition. Is anyone here a “good guy?” What’s the backstory? But it does show something that you don’t see too terribly often… a robot that has such a survival instinct that it will murder another robot for spare parts.

 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Aug 262015

Here in 2015 you’re doing pretty well if the voice recognition software on your PC, laptop or phone does a good job of accurately understanding what you’re saying. When I was a kid, the best voice recognition systems in the world would struggle to accurately transcribe speech, even when  delivered as clearly and distinctly as possible. And before the development of capable computer systems, a voice recognition system would obviously be unthinkable. Except… a century ago, long before digital computers were even vaguely possible, someone was working on a voice recognizing “typewriter.” The fact that such things never seemed to make it into production indicate that the inventor must have had some substantial difficulties in getting the system fully functional, but it’s still an interesting and terribly steampunk idea. This is from the July, 1916, issue of “Popular Science Monthly,” and describes the complex machine envisioned by one John B. Flowers of Brooklyn. A system involving bright lights, mirrors and selenium cells would be used; when a word was spoken, the sounds would cause mirrors to vibrate, causing a reflected light beam to dance around a bit. The machine would have a mechanical memory of the various parts of speech and how the the vibrating light beam would affect the electrical output of the selenium cells, and would thus – supposedly – be able to type out the words spoken into the system.

It sounds not unlike how a modern electronic voice recognition system works. But getting it to work with such a crude electromechanical system sounds like it was probably far, far more effort than it was worth. Especially when a stenographer could have been had for a dime a day. Still, it’s an interesting notion. Could it with a steam-powered Babbage Difference Engine and you have an entirely impractical, virtually impossible to maintain, yet undeniably spiffy World War One-era supercomputer with voice interface.

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 Posted by at 10:26 pm
Aug 262015

Oddly enough, I’m not referring to the circa 1960 Ballistic Missile Boost Intercept (BAMBI) concept for orbital anti-ICBM weapons the USAF studied. But, instead, these critters I saw roadside a few weeks back:



 Posted by at 5:26 pm
Aug 262015

Proof that even the mighty M-1 Abrams main battle tank can be converted into scrap metal by a small anti-tank missile if it gets hit just right. This is reportedly a Saudi M-1 taken out by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Note that just after the strike, the videographer utters the phrase the world has come to associate with things blowing up.



 Posted by at 1:24 am
Aug 252015

It’s a fiberglass mockup that has bounced from museum to museum. Appears likely to have been made for a movie. But *what* movie? It’s currently residing at the Russell Military Museum north of Chicago.

MysteryAerospaceTiltrotor3000zSoviet tilt rotor mockup - 7zSoviet tilt rotor mockup - 1

UPDATE: It looks like this is *probably* a product of the “American Aircraft Corporation,” a short-lived company from the 1990s. AAC released art depicting their “MP-36 Patriot” tilt rotor armed escort, which was apparently pitched to the US Marine Corps. The main vehicle in the illustration below is clearly larger than the mockup; but perhaps the mockup represents a smaller LHX-like VTOL “fighter.” Note the slightly different version in the background.

The  vehicle appears to have a ducted lift-fan in the nose; this would balance out the design during hover. But it still appears that the vehicle would struggle to have decent hover performance with those relatively small rotors.

There appears to be a copy of the proposal in the University of California-Berkeley library. Anybody nearby?

American Aircraft Corp Patriot

 Posted by at 7:33 pm