Dec 162017

Cherenkov radiation is something you are unlikely to experience in the natural world.This visible blue light is the “shock wave” produce when something travels faster than the local speed of light. The speed of light in transparent substances such as glass and water than be substantially lower than it is in a vacuum, so high energy particles can easily be FTL in those media.

Nuclear reactors generate just such high energy particles. And they are often immersed within pools of water for both shielding and cooling. Thus… Cherenkov radiation, and thus this spiffy collection of videos showing just how fast reactors start cranking out the rads upon startup.


This sort of thing is unlikely to appear outside of a reactor environment. If you are in space, high energy cosmic rays that penetrate your eyeballs can create tiny flashes of Cherenkov radiation within the vitreous humor, an effect that astronauts have note since the earliest days of spaceflight, something sure to freak the fark out of space tourists. But these are instantaneous phenomena, not steady state ghostly glows. If you do stumble across something out in the wild causing the water, air or glass around it to glow like Dr. Manhattan, you may well have stumbled across something that it would be best to stumble away from.

And as to how good that water shielding is? Your average human would probably look at that Cherenkov radiation and assume that the water ain’t doin’ diddly. But things like electrons *aren’t* photons, and they don’t pass through water as easily as simple light does. This “What If” from XKCD explains it well.

 Posted by at 11:16 am
Dec 142017

Apart from some “panel lines” and a few greeblies the details on the upper/forward hull are in place. I’ve re-sculpted the aft end of the “spine” and added the whatchamacallits to the forward ends of the lower engine nacelles. I need to detail the underside (there are fewer details there) and the at fuselage. Last thing I’ll do is flesh out the shuttlebay and at that point do another round of scale-guesstimation based on scenes showing people standing in the shuttlebay.

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
Dec 142017

The Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne was without a doubt the niftiest helicopter ever to *almost* make it into production. but, alas, it was ahead of its time… more precisely, ahead of the available technology.

The gunner sat in a seat that could spin 360 degrees (like the gunner in the Gunstar… and if you don’t get the reference, you’ve a geekiness deficiency). The Cheyenne had a pusher prop for very high speed for a helicopter, and small wings to generate lift and offload the rotor at speed. Lockheed had considerable faith in the future of that propulsion concept and incorporated it into designs for civilian passenger transport helicopters such as the CL-1026 9described in US VTOL Projects issue #01).

 Posted by at 6:30 pm
Dec 142017


Disney buys 21 Century Fox for $52.4 billion, which means they’ll own the ‘Alien’ franchise, which means that the Xenomorphs born from the Queen are now actually Disney Princesses. Let that sink in for a minute

This means that the X-Men and the Fantastic Four can now appear in the Marvel Avengers movies. yeah, I know, big whoop. More importantly, it means that the United States Colonial Marines can now appear in Star Wars movies. And facehuggers can appear in Pixar flicks like”Finding Xeno.”

 Posted by at 12:12 pm
Dec 132017

The detailing of the Orville continues, now installing the individual windows and greeblies to the forward hull. *Pretty* sure that these probably won’t be entirely visible on the finished 1/1400 scale product, but who knows.

And yeah, rather than rendering a proper image file I simply photographed the computer screen with my phone. So sue me.

 Posted by at 7:49 pm
Dec 122017

The post earlier today about the whackadoodle anti-engineering article? It was written by, wait for it, the head of Purdue’s School of Engineering Education, something I posted about in April.

Didn’t Purdue used to be a pretty well respected engineering university? While I’d hate to lay the punishment for this insanity at the feet of the graduate, one has to wonder how long it’ll take before engineering firms like Boeing and Lockheed and Exxon and General Electric and Ford see “Purdue graduate” on a resume and remember who Purdue likes to hire, and decides that it’d perhaps be safest to pass on those resumes.

If you get your art wrong, your painting doesn’t sell. If you get your poli-sci wrong, your candidate doesn’t win. You get the *engineering* wrong, people die, coastlines are trashed, contracts are cancelled, companies are sued into oblivion, stockholders bail and tens of thousands can become unemployed. So if an engineering school becomes known as a place where “engineering rigor” is actually frowned upon… how good of an engineer do you think they be?

Something all *good* engineering curricula teach is “risk analysis.” Hiring an SJW-trained engineer? Not worth the risk. You’d be better off hiring an engineer from Taiwan or New Delhi. You know, the Asians with all the white privilege.

 Posted by at 10:02 pm
Dec 122017

In an effort to inform the public about the electromagnetic spectrum, this NASA-funded video produced at CalTech has Ed Wasser playing an IT guy named Dave talking to a singing AI voiced by Ellen McLain. McLain has in recent years become sort of the go-to voice for creepy AIs, right up there with Douglas Rains HAL. It’s amusing and enlightening if your education left out the basics of the electromagnetic spectrum. More importantly, it raises the important question of whether Babylon 5 would have been even more awesome if it had had a disturbing disembodied AI working either with or against the Shadows (and just how much even more extra creepier B5 would have been had Wesley Crusher been briefly visible in the background on propaganda posters).

 Posted by at 9:07 pm
Dec 122017

Now, here’s an interesting scholarly journal:

Engineering Studies

What might the articles in “Engineering Studies” be, do you think? Perhaps articles describing engineering projects, like building bridges, skyscrapers, jetliners, rockets? The techniques behind terraforming Venus or filling the Chad Sea? Nope. OK, how about articles describing how engineering is done, how to integrate physical goals with the laws of physics and the realities of economics? What the latest finite element analysis codes are, the most advanced laser measurement systems, the newest thing in pocket protectors? Well, apparently not. Let’s take a look at the current issue, shall we?

Guest Editor’s Introduction: Engineering Masculinities in Water Governance

Hydrocracies, Engineers and Power: Questioning Masculinities in Water

Engineering Masculinities: How Higher Education Genders the Water Profession in Peru

Becoming an Engineer or a Lady Engineer: Exploring Professional Performance and Masculinity in Nepal’s Department of Irrigation

Queering Engineers? Using History to Re-think the Associations Between Masculinity and Irrigation Engineering in Peru

Apparently, hydraulic engineering is “masculine.” And apparently “masculinity” is a “thing” in engineering, like “tensile strength.” Who knew.

But if that’s not adequately edifying, take a look at one of the more recent articles published behind their paywall:

Rigor/Us: Building Boundaries and Disciplining Diversity with Standards of Merit

Rigor is the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality. Rigor’s particular role in engineering created conditions for its transfer and adaptation in the recently emergent discipline of engineering education research. ‘Rigorous engineering education research’ and the related ‘evidence-based’ research and practice movement in STEM education have resulted in a proliferation of boundary drawing exercises that mimic those in engineering disciplines, shaping the development of new knowledge and ‘improved’ practice in engineering education. Rigor accomplishes dirty deeds, however, serving three primary ends across engineering, engineering education, and engineering education research: disciplining, demarcating boundaries, and demonstrating white male heterosexual privilege. Understanding how rigor reproduces inequality, we cannot reinvent it but rather must relinquish it, looking to alternative conceptualizations for evaluating knowledge, welcoming diverse ways of knowing, doing, and being, and moving from compliance to engagement, from rigor to vigor.

You think that’s bad, get a load of this. I looked up the journal “Engineering Studies” on wikipedia to see if it had its own listing… it does not. But the *concept* of “engineering studies” does. The description is pretty minimal, weak and bland; at the end, a grand total of two Journals are listed. One is the previously mentioned “Engineering Studies.” The other:

International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace (IJESJP)

Ye gods. The one good thing I can say is that on their website the “current issue” dates back to 2015.

Realistically, it looks like the Social Justice Warrior War On Engineers is minimally backed by dedicated journals. But don’t doubt that they are out there (in all senses of the phrase), and they want to destroy engineering and replace it with… well, it’s difficult to tell, really. If “engineering rigor” is bad and should be done away with, I am faintly interested to find out what they think will actually design a vast arcology that won’t collapse and kill all the Special Lemmings living within. So, you know, less an issue of “concern” than “curiosity,” I suppose…

Sure, they’re silly. Sure, any engineer worth his or her salt will likely shake his or her head at this nonsense, and then get back on the job. The problem, as we’ve seen in the last few years, is that SJWs are getting quite skilled at yelling loud enough, and screaming just the right stuff, that the people in charge will often listen to them and even bend the knee, even if only in the hope of placating them for some peace and quiet. But it’s a disastrous idea to give in so much as a millimeter to these screeching harpies of irrationality. You’d be better off trying to incorporate astrological charts into orbital mechanics, dowsing rods into mining operations, spoon-bending psychics into metallurgy, creationists into biology.

Engineering doesn’t have politics. F=MA doesn’t lean left or right, communist or capitalist, fascist or libertarian. But of course, that doesn’t stop politics from trying to grab hold of every tool imaginable, including engineering. And engineers, even if they are not especially political, should be aware of the creeping insidiousness of invasive politics. They should, to use a word mistreated, misused and now battered into the dirt, be “woke” to what’s going on, if for no other reason than to recognize the SJWs… and then to ignore their screechings. This opinion piece – a rather hyperventilatory bit of Trumpist self-congratulations, admittedly – deals with “conservatives” rather than “engineers,” but the basic message does, I think, apply to engineers and technicians and scientists and all good men and women of reason and conscience.

Woke Conservatives And The Awesome Power Of Not Caring

Recognize the tools and techniques of the anti-engineering SJWs when they come to your place of engineering or engineering education. Recognize them… and then refuse to play along. Nod politely as they yammer, and then, depending on the position of power you have, either:

1: Tell ’em “sure thing,” then go back to what you were doing once they’ve left the room

2: Laugh in their faces and tell ’em your preferred variant of “bite me.”

It’s important to not only prevent them from getting the changes they want, but to also prevent them from damaging *you*. Sometimes that means playing the sap and pretending to care… but then quietly sabotaging their efforts from the inside. If you are a new engineer with a precarious position, standing up in the middle of an all-hands meeting and pointing out out to the company Diversity And Tolerance Compliance Officer that their latest mandate is the dumbest farking thing you’ve ever heard and can we *please* forget this nonsense and get back to work there are deadlines after all, is entirely honest, entirely justified… and stands a good chance of getting you fired. This is not only bad for you, it’s bad for everyone else: it empowers the social justice fascists and cows the rest of the staff. Don’t give them the satisfaction. If you don’t have the power to laugh at their faces… laugh behind their backs.

 Posted by at 10:41 am
Dec 112017

President Trump signs space policy directive ordering NASA to send humans to the Moon

For whatever a policy directive to NASA is worth…

The article discusses the fact that Mars advocates are worried that a return to the Moon would sidetrack a manned mission to Mars, which the article says is hoped-for for the year 2033. No mention of SpaceX’s rather optimistic plans on getting there by 2024. But the thing about Moon vs. Mars…

Sure, the idea of using the Moon as a launching pad for Mars is silly. Once the Moon is sufficiently industrialized, Lunar surface mass drivers could lob aluminum and LOX to Earth orbit for use in the construction of Mars ships; but that’s a long way off and there’s no good reason why one destination should wait for the other. They are both useful for their own ends. The Moon is a clear destination for industry; mining, processing and power generation (vast PV arrays on the surface beaming power back to Earth could end the usefulness of fossil fuels entirely). Mars is a clear destination for colonization. The one can be State 51, the other State 52. Hawaii/Alaska, Moon/Mars; both good.

 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Dec 112017

Why do I say “It’s good that our enemies are evil?” It would be disconcerting if we looked at the Nazis or the Commies or the Jihadis or whatever and said “hmm, they seem like the good guys here.” So, it’s best that when we compare them to us, they come off badly.

And now that we have accepted that they are the bad guys, one thing you *don’t* want out of your enemy is competence. And fortunately, the jihadis seem to have incompetence in spades.

Suspect in Port Authority bombing carried out bungled attack in name of ISIS

This winner, this god among men, tried to use a suicide bomb to kill a bunch of innocent folks… and the bomb didn’t even kill *him.* And it’s not like bomb building is all that hard. We’ve lately had cases of mass shootings by verifiably crazy people; all they needed was a gun, which are not that hard to obtain in gun-free zones like New York. The internet is loaded with instructions on how to make pipe bombs, pressure cooker bombs, twitchy high explosives. Trucks are all over the place, available for the buying, renting or stealing, to be used in running down pedestrians. Molotov cocktails require little more than a bottle, a rag, a flammable fluid and a lighter… and yet this Surt-worshipping CHUD couldn’t even blow *himself* straight to Nastrond.

To which I say… three cheers for the generations of inbreeding which has made these genetic defectives so incompetent at even the most basic of terror tactics.

 Posted by at 5:13 pm