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March 2021 Archives

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: The Magnetic Worm Mystery

Posted at 15:05 Permalink

CONTEXT: Full Moon over the South Pole

Here are pictures from my visit in January, 2013.

Posted at 12:43 Permalink

CONTINUITY: From 1940—Chimney Felling

Posted at 11:08 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Mars Helicopter “Ingenuity” Almost Ready to Deploy

Here is more about Ingenuity.

Posted at 10:55 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Cellular Automata: The Firing Squad Synchronisation Problem

This is a classic one-dimensional cellular automata problem which was posed by John Myhill and 1957 and solved by artificial intelligence pioneers John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky in a paper published in 1962. The original solution uses just three states, with each cell observing only its two immediate neighbours (with special rules for end cells with no neighbours), running in 3n time, where n is the number of cells.

The best known solution, found in 1987, runs in the optimal 2n−2 time with six states. It has been proved that no four state solution is possible, but it is unknown whether a five state solution exists.

Here is more on the firing squad synchronisation problem. I should add this as an example in Cellular Automata Laboratory.

Posted at 10:24 Permalink

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Retrocausality in a Simple Optical Experiment?

Fourmilab's RetroPsychoKinesis Experiments have now been running for 24 years, with a total of 457,876 experiments run by 35,367 subjects.

Posted at 15:27 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: The Last Moments of SpaceX Starship SN11

Posted at 14:01 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Paris Air Show, 1909

Posted at 13:57 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX Starship SN11: Launches in Dense Fog, Ends Badly

Posted at 13:11 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Escape in an Inflatable Airplane? The Goodyear Inflatoplane

Posted at 12:40 Permalink

CONTEXT: Lightning Man Wades Ashore in Australia

Posted at 11:48 Permalink

Monday, March 29, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Boston Dynamics—“Introducing Stretch”

Here is more information about Stretch.

Posted at 18:05 Permalink


From the post, “UFO Stylized Social Facts”:

So it isn’t crazy to think that aliens might have indirect obsessive lazy motives for UFO encounters, motives hidden perhaps even from themselves. But this case of overcoming the usual coordinated limits to fly to a distant star just to glow-buzz their treetops, seems spectacularly extravagant even by the standards of dreamtime humans today.

To do this, aliens need a sufficient level of “slack” resources available to spend on such symbolic activities. And even with hidden motives and lazy organizations, we humans usually at least make up vague stories about the practical ends served by our actions, even when such stories don’t stand up to close scrutiny. So we want an explanation of this level of alien slack, and we’d like to have some ideas of what stories aliens might tell about the ends they accomplished by UFO encounters.

Actually, my crackpot theory in “Flying Saucers Explained” is perfectly consistent with these observations.

Posted at 12:20 Permalink

CONTEXT: An Empty Suit in Space

No, this is not about the new NASA administrator.

Posted at 12:12 Permalink


Using Units Calculator, I worked out the kinetic energy of the ship as it struck the bank of the canal.

    (220000 tons) * (1/2) * ((13 knots) ^ 2) = 4.463259 gigajoule
    (220000 tons) * (1/2) * ((13 knots) ^ 2) = 1.0667445 ton tnt

No wonder it's difficult to drag back out.

Posted at 11:32 Permalink

Sunday, March 28, 2021

CONTEXT: Remember These?

You can still buy them, albeit at forbiddingly high prices. Here is the Lowdown on Flash Bulbs.

Meggaflash Technologies of Ireland is the world's only remaining manufacturer of flash bulbs. Their products are in demand for such applications as cavers photographing large underground galleries, as no other safe, portable light source will illuminate large areas so effectively.

Posted at 14:10 Permalink

CONTINUITY: A Glitch in the Simulation

Posted at 12:45 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Three Russian Submarines Rendezvous and Surface Through the Ice in the Arctic

This exercise was conducted near Franz Josef Land at around latitude 80° N in the Arctic. Here is my visit to Franz Josef Land in better weather,

Posted at 10:55 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: What happens if you put your head in a particle accelerator?

Posted at 10:46 Permalink

CONTEXT: Paul Davies—Where Did the Laws of the Universe Come From?

And why do the fundamentals of physics seem fine-tuned for life?

Posted at 10:15 Permalink

CONTINUITY: NASA's First Space Launch Was to the Moon

Here is more about Pioneer 1, launched on 1958-10-11.

Posted at 09:44 Permalink

Saturday, March 27, 2021

CONTEXT: Generating Bitcoin Addresses from First Principles

Posted at 21:27 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: DC-10 Cargo Door II: Turkish Airlines Flight 981 Crash, March 1974

Here is more information about Turkish Airlines Flight 981.

Posted at 15:04 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Building a Digital Model of the Antikythera Mechanism

Here is the paper from Nature Scientific Reports, “A Model of the Cosmos in the ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism”. X-ray computed tomography of the mechanism suggests the mechanism was a mechanical orrery which computed the positions of the Sun, Moon, and five planets known in antiquity and indicates the Greeks who built it understood periodic terms in much the same way as they are used in present-day analytic planetary theories.

Posted at 12:06 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Suez Canal Blocked by the Evergreen Container Ship “Ever Given”

Juan Browne analyses the accident that blocked the Suez Canal, focusing on how mega-container ships are vulnerable to crosswinds which overpower their bow and stern thrusters,

Posted at 11:59 Permalink

CONTEXT: A Rube Goldberg Inspired Useless Machine

Posted at 11:35 Permalink

Friday, March 26, 2021

CONTINUITY: Kean Walmsley Demonstrates My Commodore 64/128 Programs from the 1980s

Here is Kean's blog post about the programs.

Links to the programs are:

The problems encountered in the neural network demo are due to training it with more characters than its limited size can learn. If you use two or three patterns, it works well. With four or more, it gets confused.

Posted at 15:36 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Opening a Bicycle Lock with Thermite

Posted at 15:06 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Comrades—Use Low-Aerosol Fluxes and Electrode Coatings!

Posted at 14:45 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Deciphering the Zodiac Killer's 1969 Message with Wolfram Language

Posted at 14:25 Permalink

CONTEXT: Why SpaceX Is Buying Oil Rigs

Posted at 13:34 Permalink


Posted at 13:11 Permalink

Thursday, March 25, 2021

CONTEXT: Visualising Quaternions with Stereographic Projection

Posted at 15:51 Permalink

CONTINUITY: The Kickstarter for Robert Kroese's Apocalypse Trilogy, Mammon, Is Live

Posted at 14:38 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Imaging the Magnetic Fields around a Black Hole

Here is more information about how polarised light was used to trace the magnetic fields of the accretion disc. This video explains how magnetic field strength affects the observed pattern of polarisation.

Posted at 13:40 Permalink

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: What Does Stephen Wolfram's Physics Model Say about Consciousness?

Posted at 19:29 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Is there a Fifth Force? News from the Large Hadron Collider (CERN LHCb

Posted at 15:45 Permalink

CONTEXT: RAH-66 Comanche—America’s Abandoned Stealth Helicopter

In early 1989, I had the opportunity to briefly “fly” the RAH-66 Comanche flight simulator, which used a virtual reality helmet display instead of the usual surrounding projection screens. The imagery was generated by some serious computing gear in an adjacent room and was stunningly good for the time. Today it would be considered poor to mediocre for a game title on Steam.

Posted at 12:26 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Einsteinium Chemistry

Posted at 12:01 Permalink

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

CONTINUITY: Deckungszielgerät: Shooting Around Corners in World War II

Posted at 20:30 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Building the World's Largest 555 Timer with Vacuum Tubes

Here is more information on the 555 timer integrated circuit.

Posted at 13:46 Permalink

CONTINUITY: The Unluckiest Satellites: Earthquakes, Rockets and Clogged Pipes

Posted at 13:12 Permalink

Monday, March 22, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Rocket Lab Electron Launch from New Zealand

Here are details on the mission from Everyday Astronaut. These satellites will be delivered into a 45° inclination orbit, somewhat unusual compared to the more common equatorial and Sun-synchronous orbits.

Posted at 19:41 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX Starship SN11 Performs Static Fire Test

Posted at 18:38 Permalink

CONTEXT: Bell's Theorem: The Quantum Venn Diagram Paradox

How you can demonstrate quantum weirdness with simple polariser light filters.

Posted at 16:21 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Moving the Telephone Company

The plan was devised and supervised by architect Kurt Vonnegut Sr., father of the author.

Posted at 13:38 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: “Tardigrades Exhibit Robust Inter-limb Coordination across Walking Speeds”

Here is the paper, “Tardigrades Exhibit Robust Inter-limb Coordination across Walking Speeds”.

Posted at 12:16 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: From Iceland—Live Volcano Camera

Here is information about the eruption from the Icelandic Met Office.

Posted at 11:56 Permalink

Sunday, March 21, 2021

CONTEXT: Five-Position Switch

This is what, in computer language design, is called “syntactic sugar”.

Posted at 14:33 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Energy Storage in Electronically Excited Solid Helium

The JPL Technical Memorandum [PDF] from September 1973 notes that if the stability of the “He IV” phase is demonstrated, it might be possible to induce the phase electrically and trigger the release of the energy from the metastable state.

Posted at 13:29 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: The DC-10 Cargo Door: American Airlines Flight 96, June 1972

As mentioned at the very end of this video, the failure of the FAA to mandate fixes to the DC-10 cargo door locking mechanism via an Airworthiness Directive after the American Airlines Flight 96 accident would lead to the loss of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 and all 346 on board in March, 1974.

Posted at 12:29 Permalink

Saturday, March 20, 2021

CONTINUITY: Plug Compatible

Posted at 16:34 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Crushing Diamonds with a Hydraulic Press: Super Slow Motion Macro Video

Captured at 15,000 frames per second: note how the cut diamond deforms the steel tool.

Posted at 15:56 Permalink

CONTEXT: Paul Davies—Is It Possible to Build a Time Machine?

Posted at 15:39 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: America's Biggest World War II Plane—The Martin Mars Flying Boat

Posted at 14:48 Permalink

CONTINUITY: In Defense of the Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Posted at 14:11 Permalink

Friday, March 19, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Cubesat Propulsion with Water Electrolysed by Solar Panels

Posted at 16:57 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: The Many Aircraft Powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major Engine

Twenty-eight cylinders in four rows, 71.5 litres displacement, supercharged, optionally turbocharged, output power 3.2 megawatts (4300 horsepower): the Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major was the largest displacement piston aircraft engine mass produced in the United States. It powered more than 25 aircraft types, including the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, the B-36 bomber, Northrop YB-35 flying wing, and Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”).

Posted at 15:54 Permalink

CONTEXT: NASA Press Conference on Space Launch System Hot Fire Test

All of the taxpayer-funded space cowboys and -girls wear Artemis-branded muzzles so they don't infect anybody who views the video. Meanwhile, here's today's Dilbert.

Posted at 14:45 Permalink

CONTINUITY: March 1965: Atlas-Centaur Fifth Flight Launch Attempt

This is a slow-motion silent film (the launch takes a while to get underway) of the fifth attempt to launch an Atlas-Centaur booster on 1965-03-02. The goal was to place a payload simulating the Surveyor lunar landing probe into a highly elliptical orbit using a single burn of the Centaur upper stage.

It ended badly. Moments after liftoff, the two Atlas booster engines shut down (you can see them “coughing” in the video) and the rocket settled back onto the launch pad, creating a huge explosion. Investigation concluded the booster's fuel pre-valves had only opened partially, then shut due to fuel pressure, starving the engines of fuel.

Here is a view of the same event showing the entire rocket, while it lasted.

Posted at 13:34 Permalink


Posted at 13:09 Permalink

Thursday, March 18, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: A Place in Britain Visited by Fewer People than the Moon

Posted at 15:58 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Sabine Hossenfelder: Physics Isn't Pretty

Is the quest for mathematical beauty misleading physicists seeking the fundamentals of physical theory? These ideas are explored in greater length in Dr Hossenfelder's book, Lost in Math.

Posted at 15:29 Permalink

CONTEXT: Asteroid Eating Fungus!

Some of these ideas sound wacky, but this is precisely the kind of thing NASA (if it exists at all) should be doing: exploring and pioneering risky but potentially big-payoff technologies at low technology readiness levels where modest seed funding can rule out those that aren't worth pursuing and mature those that are to the point industry can develop them further. This is was what NASA's predecessor, the NACA, did with great success for decades.

Posted at 14:13 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA to Try Space Launch System “Green Run” Again

The first attempt, on 2021-01-16, shut down prematurely due to an engine parameter exceeding a limit. The Space Launch System, NASA's giant “rocket to nowhere”, will, if it ever flies, discard four RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engines and two solid rocket boosters, all of which were routinely reused during the Space Shuttle program, in the Atlantic Ocean. This disposable insanity has cost U.S. taxpayers around twenty billion dollars so far, and the Office of Management and Budget estimated in 2019 that after all development costs were sunk, each launch would cost around US$ 2 billion.

Posted at 13:01 Permalink

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

CONTINUITY: Building A Simple High Voltage Nitrogen Laser

The Transversely Excited Atmospheric (TEA) laser requires no vacuum system, glass-working, special mirrors, or pure gases. If you have a high voltage power supply, it can be built with components available at the hardware store and emits a coherent beam of ultraviolet light.

Posted at 21:45 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: A Self-Amplifying RNA Vaccine for Malaria?

If this proves safe and effective in human trials, it is a game changer for tropical regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa.

Posted at 20:05 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: SpaceX Starship SN10—High-Altitude Flight Recap

Posted at 13:24 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Illegal Content on the Bitcoin Blockchain

It is possible to embed arbitrary content on the Bitcoin blockchain. What happens when prohibited content (pornography, government secrets, copyright-protected material, etc.) is published there? By design, there is no way to “unpublish” data on a blockchain without “forking” the cryptocurrency it supports. Bruce Schneier examines the possible consequences of this.

Frankly, I've been surprised this has not happened on a large scale long before now. With the growing prominence of Bitcoin and the raging “cancel culture”, it looks like a bonfire ready to be lit.

Posted at 13:10 Permalink

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: The United States Army Has a “Chief Diversity Officer”

“We'll have to postpone the amphibious assault. The troops are not sufficiently diverse, and some are suspected of extremism!”

Here is more, if you can take it, from the official army.mil Web site: “Army aggressively working to eliminate extremism, says chief diversity officer”. A quote:

According to the Office of the Provost Marshal General, suspicious behavior or actions of a person, or group of people, should be reported. There are numerous means of reporting: the chain of command, local law enforcement, iSALUTE, and the Insider Threat Hub, among others. If the actions of the person or group are life threatening, call emergency responders and/or 911.

Are there awards for particularly prolific informers?

As I've said before, “Superpower, shmuperpower: one little tap and the whole thing collapses.”

Posted at 16:38 Permalink


Posted at 16:26 Permalink

CONTINUITY: “Principles of Gas Filled Tubes”: 1945 Training Film

One of the rooms at my engineering school had fluorescent lighting with a dimmer that used a bank of thyratron tubes to chop the AC waveform into slices delivering the desired input power. When you turned the dimmer way down, you'd get weird dancing plasma effects in the fluorescent tubes. I ought to try that some time with a triac and oscillator drive.

Posted at 12:29 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: How Radio Hobbyists Decoded SpaceX’s Telemetry and Engineering Video

Here is information on the data format by the people who figured it out and background on software-defined radio.

Posted at 11:57 Permalink

Monday, March 15, 2021

CONTINUITY: Was the “Wow!” Signal a Sign of Extraterrestrial Life?

This is a conversation with Dr Robert Dixon, director of the Ohio State University SETI program at the Big Ear Radio Telescope when the “Wow!” signal was received in 1977.

Posted at 12:31 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: International Space Station: First Major Expansion in a Decade

Posted at 11:09 Permalink

Sunday, March 14, 2021

CONTEXT: “His Master's Voice”—The Out-Take

Posted at 16:06 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Submarine Diesel Engines: WW II U.S. Navy Training Film

The ways they get “supercharging for free” by compression of scavenge air in the cylinder are very clever, not to mention two pistons in the same cylinder.

Posted at 13:52 Permalink

CONTEXT: When the University of California Bragged about Contributing to Nuclear Weapons Tests in Nevada

Posted at 13:04 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Join the Army, Learn a Trade

If I'm a military planner in Peking, I've got to be thinking “One little push, and the whole bankrupt house of cards folds.”

Posted at 12:05 Permalink

CONTEXT: Mail the Kid to Grandma's House

Posted at 11:44 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: It's Pi Day! Calculating π with Avogadro's Number

Here is a similar Monte Carlo estimation of the value of π run on the Analytical Engine.

Posted at 11:02 Permalink

Saturday, March 13, 2021

CONTINUITY: Shifting Cargo: 2013 National Airlines Flight 102 Crash in Afghanistan

Here is more information about this accident. This is the dash camera video of the crash.

Posted at 15:18 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Arthur C. Clarke on Predicting the Future

Posted at 14:51 Permalink

CONTEXT: A Regular Expression Hexword Puzzle

What's a regular expression?

Posted at 14:31 Permalink

CONTINUITY: SpaceX to Launch Falcon 9 Booster on Ninth Mission

If launched and recovered successfully, this first stage booster will become the “fleet leader” with nine launches and landings.

Update: (2021-03-14 11:15 UTC)

Posted at 13:56 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Mount Etna Eruption

Posted at 13:08 Permalink

Friday, March 12, 2021

CONTEXT: Why are UFO aliens so incompetent? Maybe it's bureaucracy!

Posted at 19:40 Permalink

CONTEXT: Can Gravitomagnetism Explain Galactic Rotation Curves without Dark Matter?

Posted at 15:36 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Nuclear Powered Laser Cannon Fires on Alien Planet

You'd think that with a budget of more than US$ 2 billion, they'd be able to make it go “PEW! PEW!” instead of sounding like a clock ticking.

Posted at 14:27 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Tired: Vegetarianism, Wired: Eating Bacteria

Posted at 13:41 Permalink

Thursday, March 11, 2021

CONTINUITY: Building a Vacuum Tube Computer: Four-Bit Instruction Register

This project's goal is to build a vacuum tube implementation of the Motorola MC14500B Industrial Control Unit, a CMOS microcontroller with a one bit data path which was manufactured between 1977 and 1995 and frequently used to replace electromagnetic relay controllers in industrial equipment.

The electrical design is interesting, using a B+ voltage of just 24 volts, which is great for safety and avoiding unwanted excitement, but limits the fan-out of gates.

Posted at 15:51 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Space Factories—Building 3D Printed Spacecraft in Space

Posted at 15:06 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Slow Food—72-Hour Beef Wellington

Posted at 14:42 Permalink

CONTEXT: Why Real Explosions Don’t Look like Movie Explosions

Ahhhh—the old det cord and petrol trick…

Posted at 13:41 Permalink

CONTINUITY: From the 1960s—A Seven-Segment Neon Nixie Tube Emulator

This is amazing: a direct replacement for Nixie tubes that provides a seven-segment flat display using light pipes, neon bulb illumination, and a diode logic decode matrix to convert digit signals to segment encoding. The drive voltage is sufficiently high that the voltage drop in the diodes isn't a problem.

Posted at 13:32 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Descending Perseverance Rover Images its Heat Shield Impacting Mars

Posted at 13:06 Permalink

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Microsoft Experimenting with Sea-Floor Data Centres

Disadvantage: technicians can't go there and fix things. Advantage: technicians can't break working gear trying to fix things.

Posted at 15:17 Permalink

CONTEXT: SpaceX Starship SN10 Hard Landing Possibly Due to Helium Ingestion

If you look closely at the moment of engine re-start before the landing, there's a momentary green plume from one of the engines. This would be consistent with “engine-rich combustion” due to fuel starvation and the consequent oxygen-rich mixture burning copper components in the combustion chamber and nozzle.

Update: Elon Musk confirms this speculation. (2021-03-12 13:47 UTC)

Posted at 15:00 Permalink

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Excavating with Hypersonic Ram-Accelerated Projectiles

Perhaps they should call it the “Not-So-Boring Company”.

Posted at 13:46 Permalink


Posted at 12:30 Permalink

CONTEXT: Starling Murmuration in Ireland Resembles Giant Bird

You can make your own murmurations with Fourmilab Flocking Birds for Second Life.

Posted at 11:18 Permalink

Monday, March 8, 2021

CONTINUITY: The Nuclear Power Generator That Went to the Bottom of the Sea before Flying in Space

Radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) are tough.

Posted at 16:25 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Dominoes, Mutilated Chessboards, Tesselation, and the Arctic Circle Theorem

Posted at 15:00 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: How Will NASA Test the Next Lunar Lander?

Posted at 12:41 Permalink

CONTEXT: Fly…yes. Land…no.

Posted at 11:59 Permalink

Sunday, March 7, 2021

CONTINUITY: Moons of Pluto in Fiction and Fact

Posted at 20:02 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Switzerland Bans the Burka, Continues to Mandate Mask-Wearing in Public

Posted at 19:40 Permalink

CONTINUITY: The Heron Returns to Fourmilac

It's easy to see the dinosaur ancestry in these chaps.

Posted at 15:56 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Inside a 1 Watt Dubai LED Lamp

Philips make a line of LED lamps, sold only in Dubai, which are much more efficient, cooler-running, and longer-lived that the “Chinese junk” sold elsewhere in the world. An earlier post, on 2021-01-14, examined a 3 W lamp in this series. There is also a 1 W candle (E14) base lamp: can they fit the (literally) brilliant, flicker-free, and efficient current regular circuitry into that tiny little base?

Posted at 14:11 Permalink

CONTEXT: Solving the Trolley Problem

Here is background on the trolley problem, which was originally an intellectual exercise in philosophy and ethics, but turns out to have real-world implications for the design of autonomous vehicles.

Posted at 12:41 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Finally! A Cat Detector

It uses a Raspberry Pi running TensorFlow with the COCO-SSD object identification model.

Posted at 11:37 Permalink

Saturday, March 6, 2021

CONTINUITY: Iluminatus!

I'm currently re-reading, for the first time since it was originally published in the mid 1970s, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus Trilogy.

This is, more than 45 years later, just what you need to understand and appreciate the absurdity of the 2020s.

“But they can rule by fraud, and by fraud eventually acquire access to the tools they need to finish the job of killing the Constitution.”

“What sort of tools?”

“More stringent security measures. Universal electronic surveillance. No-knock laws. Stop and frisk laws. Government inspection of first-class mail. Automatic fingerprinting, photographing, and urinalysis of any person arrested before he is charged with a crime. A law making it unlawful to resist even unlawful arrest. Laws establishing detention camps for potential subversives. Gun control laws. Restrictions on travel. … Instead of realizing that there is a conspiracy, conducted by a handful of men, the people reason—or are manipulated into reasoning—that the entire populace must have its freedom restricted in order to protect the leaders.”

This is a quote from a book published in 1975 (p. 220).

Get a copy of your own before it's cancelled and disappeared.

Posted at 23:26 Permalink

CONTINUITY: The Story of the Molotov Cocktail and How It Got Its Name

Posted at 15:46 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: A Bicycle Lock That Fights Back—but Is It Legal?

Posted at 15:30 Permalink

CONTEXT: United Airlines Flight 1175 Boeing 777-200 Fan Blade Out Incident: Animation and Interview

Here is an interview with Captain Christopher Behnam on his experience in the cockpit.

Posted at 11:57 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: SpaceX Starship SN10 Flight in High-Definition and Slow Motion

Posted at 11:22 Permalink

Friday, March 5, 2021

CONTINUITY: When Italy Bombed Britain in World War II

Posted at 13:35 Permalink

CONTEXT: Why Planet 9 May Not Exist

Posted at 13:18 Permalink

Thursday, March 4, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Checking Out the SpaceX Starship SN10 Wreckage

The morning after, Everyday Astronaut visits the site of SpaceX Starship SN10's second, less graceful, landing after its flight yesterday.

Posted at 20:13 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Scott Manley Analyses the SpaceX Starship Flight, Landing, and Unexpected Re-flight

Posted at 17:28 Permalink

CONTEXT: Soyuz Electro-Mechanical Space Clock—Part 2

Here is Part 1: restoring the clock to operation.

Posted at 16:00 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: New Supernova Remnant Discovered in the Milky Way

This thing is enormous—at 4.4°, it is almost five times the apparent diameter of the full Moon.

Posted at 15:23 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth!

What could possibly go wrong?

Posted at 14:22 Permalink

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX: Starship SN10, Successful Flight and Landing

And then…

Posted at 23:25 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Hog Crossing

Posted at 19:36 Permalink

CONTEXT: “Orders”—No States, No Flags, No “Leaders”, No Wars

Posted at 14:47 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Anvil Launching

Heck, on Fourmilab Island, it's the sport!

Posted at 14:06 Permalink

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Vikings and Spaceships! The War of the Iron Dragon is Now Available

To celebrate the publication of volume 5, the Kindle edition of the first novel in the series, The Dream of the Iron Dragon, is presently free for everybody.

Posted at 21:57 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: SpaceX: Landing Failure Due to Fatigue Failure in Engine Heat Shield Cover

The engine cover failed during ascent of the first stage booster during the launch on 2021-02-15, leading to a premature shutdown of the engine. The Falcon 9 first stage has an engine-out capability, so the remaining eight engines successfully completed the burn and allowed the second stage to delver the payload as planned. But damage to the engine caused it to fail during the re-entry burn, leading to failure to recover the booster. The engine cover that failed was the “fleet leader”, with more previous flights than any other of the same design. It was pure bad luck that the damaged engine was one of the three chosen to fire for the re-entry burn.

Posted at 16:57 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Does Computability Theory Exclude Containment of Superintelligence?

AIs validating the safety of other AIs A 2016 paper, “Superintelligence cannot be contained: Lessons from Computability Theory” argues that inherent limits to computability (such as the halting problem) make all proposed strategies for containing a super-intelligent artificial intelligence impossible.

Posted at 14:55 Permalink

CONTEXT: Orwellian Nightmare for Kids—Courtesy of Los Angeles Government Schools and Microsoft

Coming next: “vaccine passports” for Mom and Dad, with not only their vaccination status but social credit scores as well! “Where do you want to go today?”—not there.

Posted at 13:35 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Rocket Lab: Introducing Neutron—Peter Beck Eats His Hat

Posted at 12:54 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: In-depth Analysis of the United Airlines 1175 Fan Blade Failure

United Airlines flight 328 was not the first Boeing 777 to experience a catastrophic fan blade failure. On 2018-02-13, UAL 1175, also bound to Hawaii (from San Francisco) suffered a fan blade failure around a hour before arrival in Honolulu. As in the more recent event, the engine cowling was lost and resulted in increased drag on the aircraft. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has issued its final report on the incident and in this video Juan Browne examines it in depth, explaining the implications for two-engine operations over long ocean crossings (ETOPS).

The ETOPS flight rules assume an engine failure en route is benign and does not damage the aircraft structure or affect its aerodynamic performance. Both of these 777 incidents and the Southwest flight 1380 737 engine failure in April 2018, although considered “contained”, destroyed the engine cowling and added dramatically to drag on the aircraft. An airliner in such a configuration may not be able to maintain the altitude and speed prescribed by the ETOPS guidelines and, forced to fly at a lower altitude where fuel efficiency is less, might not have the fuel reserves expected to reach the closest alternate landing site or destination.

I've always thought the concept of flying over the Pacific Ocean on two engines a triumph of bean-counting over common sense.

Posted at 12:27 Permalink

Monday, March 1, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Heat Pumps: The Future of Home Heating

Heating a house with a heat pump powered by electricity generated from natural gas may actually provide more heat than burning the natural gas directly in a home furnace, despite electricity generation from natural gas being only around 40% efficient.

Posted at 16:15 Permalink

CONTEXT: When Two Escaped German POWs Stole a Plane in WW II Britain

Posted at 14:11 Permalink