Dec 312015

A nice video describing the Gyrojet pistol. For those who somehow don’t know, the Gyrojet was a neat idea that just didn’t work out: a rocket pistol. The pistols (and associated carbine) were lightweight structures since they were not subjected to the usual stresses associated with firearms… rather than one high pressure explosion, the Gyrojet rounds were propelled by an internal rocket motor that burned for 0.1 seconds or so.  While that was great for the firearm, it sucked for the bullet itself: muzzle velocity for the pistol version was about ten feet per second. Over the next fifty or so feet the projectile continued to accelerate to something like 1200 feet per second, creating a nicely lethal round. But the initial slow velocity meant that wind would easily blow the thing around… accuracy was a bit of a joke.

I’ve often wondered about modernizing the Gyrojet. Apart from the lame fixed internal magazine the firearm itself is fine, but the projectiles could do with an update. A two-stage motor would seem the way to go… a very fast burning first stage so that the muzzle velocity is stepped up to something meaningful, several hundred feet per second. Additional ballistics work to assure something resembling accuracy. Advanced versions with laser seekers and thrust vectoring.

Even the best modern Gyrojet will almost certainly be an inferior weapon compared to a proper automatic. But it’d make a dandy weapon for the Space Marines… the minimal recoil and low system mass would be useful for guys in space suits. Plus, it’d just be durned cool. And let’s face it, that’s reason enough.

 Posted by at 10:11 pm
Dec 312015

Engineer finds examples of ‘horrific’ construction in tornado wreckage

Someone “tried to nail a steel bottom plate to the concrete,” he said. “There was no connection [between] walls, there was no connection at the roof, and it was simply nailed to the concrete foundation.

Humans have been building structure for probably in excess of fifty thousand years. For most of that time, the structures were little more than igloos and tents and teepees and lean-tos, but somewhere around 6,000 or so years ago we started building permanent structures. In that time we’ve transitioned from simple piles of store to complex multi-story buildings of steel and concrete; in order to do that, we had to learn *how* to build such things. There is a science to it, an engineering to it, a set of math for it. There is, in the typically stern STEM worldview, right and many wrong ways to build buildings. And it appears that the chuckleheads who built some of the buildings trashed in the recent tornadoes decided to not bother with those 6,000 years of science and engineering. For reasons of greed, or laziness, or ignorance, or arrogance, or just plain stupidity, the builders apparently chose to go in a different direction. They are to structural engineers what faith healers are to doctors, what lunatics who think they’re superheros capable of flight are to aeronautical engineers. And yet many people still believe that STEM is over-rated, that what we need are more people who live in fluffy muddle-headedness:

Old Navy Doesn’t Want Your Kids to Become Artists

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Dec 312015

Passengers horrified after blood seeps out of cruise ship elevator

The article is vague, but it seems that an electrician was working in or on an elevator and got squished or chopped or something. The result, as can be seen in the video, is a whole lot of blood pouring down the outside of the door.

It’s bad enough that modern cruise ships have to deal with ghost pirates and pirate ghosts, but now also ghost electricians (or electrician ghosts, I always forget how that works).


 Posted by at 9:57 am
Dec 302015

A NASA illustration (probably from 1964-66) showing the Saturn launch vehicles planned for the Apollo program. Note that the Saturn Ib shows the Lunar Module ascent stage, sans descent stage. This could have led to some interesting mission possibilities.


The full-rez scan has been made available to APR Patrons in the 2015-12 APR Extras Dropbox folder. If you’d like to help out and gain access to this and many other pieces of aerospace history, please check out the APR Patreon.


 Posted by at 3:38 pm
Dec 292015

Vegetarian and “Healthy” Diets Could Be More Harmful to the Environment

Carnegie Mellon Study Finds Eating Lettuce Is More Than Three Times Worse in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Eating Bacon

This study looks at things like lettuce and eggplant that require a whole lot of water and tending to grow.

Vegans and the like often talk about how raising food-critters is inefficient because they need to be fed corn and whatnot that could feed people directly. The thing that occurs to me is that they don’t *necessarily* need to eat plants that could feed humans. Sure, in feedlots cows and such get fed highly nutritious (i.e. processed) feed… but out in the west they tend to graze free-range on stuff like grass. Grass requires no effort on the part of humans to grow. No water, no planting, no fertilizing, no nothing. So at least in that case, feeding cattle costs approximately nothing, and in fact is a *better* use of the land for feeding people than growing crops would be.

 Posted by at 11:31 pm
Dec 292015

Well, duh. Time passes and it has some rather inevitable effects, including making people look older. But apparently a lot of people have been complaining about and/or mocking Fishers appearance in “The Force Awakens.”

So Fisher tweeted this:


Those last two words? Classic.

 Posted by at 12:36 pm
Dec 292015

Remember the spoiled rich kid who got drunked up, killed four people on the road, and got sentenced not to prison but to probation because he suffered from “affluenza?” Remember how a few days ago he and his mother vanished, violating said probation and causing the authorities to start a manhunt to find him? Well, they found him, down Mexico way.

That’s nice and all, knowing that he will be extradited back to the US and will face ten years in prison. But what will really put a smile on your face is this photo of Ethan Couch released by the Jalisco state prosecutors office:



 Posted by at 3:48 am