June 2021 Archives

Saturday, June 12, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Fools and Their Money—Blue Origin New Shepard Seat Auctioned for US$28 Million

To put this in perspective, US$ 28 million for an eleven minute carnival ride with about three minutes of weightlessness is about half the current estimated price of a Soyuz orbital tourist flight lasting around a week and including a visit to the International Space Station.

I have cued the video to start at the actual auction. If you'd like to see the fifteen minute preliminary, scroll back to the beginning.

Posted at 18:58 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Driving a Giant Soviet Vacuum Fluorescent Display

An earlier video encountered the drive problems which are remedied by the design presented here.

Posted at 13:30 Permalink

CONTEXT: Boom Supersonic—Return of the Supersonic Airliner?

Posted at 12:19 Permalink


Posted at 11:46 Permalink

CONTEXT: Exponential Growth and Intuition

Posted at 10:49 Permalink

Friday, June 11, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Planning and Executing a Magnificent Eclipse Photo

Posted at 13:17 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Negative Potential Output from a Transistor Connected to Ground and +12 V?

Posted at 12:20 Permalink

Thursday, June 10, 2021

CONTINUITY: A Quick Look at Unreal Engine 5 Early Access

Here is more information on Unreal Engine 5 from the developer, including links where you can download your own copy, which is free for non-commercial use. The high profile features, Nanite and Lumen, are currently only supported on high-end gaming consoles and legacy Windows systems.

Posted at 12:50 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Artificial Intelligence Surpasses Humans in Chip Layout

The resulting designs have a chaotic, almost organic, appearance compared to the regimented rectangular layouts most human designers produce. The paper is “Chip Placement with Deep Reinforcement Learning”.

Posted at 11:29 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: There's a Little Bite Out of the Sun Today

Posted at 10:40 Permalink

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

CONTINUITY: From 1914—A Self-Playing Violin

Posted at 13:41 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA'a Juno Orbiter Images a Crater Chain on Jupiter's Moon Ganymede

Posted at 12:25 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Two New Venus Missions—What Are the Science Goals?

Posted at 11:50 Permalink

CONTEXT: Does the S Combinator Support Universal Computation? A US$20,000 Challenge

Related, scheduled for publication on 2021-06-17:

Posted at 10:58 Permalink

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

CONTINUITY: KarTrak—The Birth of Barcode

Here is more about KarTrak.

Posted at 11:38 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Wolfram Physics Project: One-Year Video Status Report

I have written earlier here about Stephen Wolfram's breathtakingly ambitious and, if successful, profoundly important project to discover a fundamental theory of physics which underlies what he (and I) suspect to be the effective theories (such as quantum mechanics and general relativity) we have found to describe phenomena which emerge from this much simpler substrate. Here is a four hour deep dive into the goals of the project and progress so far, most of which simply consists of Stephen Wolfram talking into the camera. This is an excellent introduction to the concepts of the project and work to date.

Posted at 10:31 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: “On-Die ECC” in DDR5 Memory Modules—That Phrase Doesn’t Mean What You May Think It Does

Posted at 09:56 Permalink

Monday, June 7, 2021

CONTEXT: Controlling a Plant with the Mind

Posted at 13:18 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Pushing a One-Ton Trailer with Homemade Solid Rocket Motors

Detailed instructions are given for making professional-type polybutadiene composite propellant grains, and performance is measured and compared among composites (with and without catalyst) and simple sugar-based motors.

Posted at 11:41 Permalink

CONTEXT: Proton Sabre—Hydrodynamic Tunnelling in Particle Accelerator Beam Dumps

You'll have to click through TLS warnings to get to the abstract linked above. The full text of the dissertation [PDF] is available.

Posted at 11:14 Permalink

Sunday, June 6, 2021

CONTEXT: Jupiter (and Moons, Barely) Photographed in Broad Daylight

Venus is much easier to observe visually and photograph in daylight, yet few people have done so. Here is my guide to “Viewing Venus in Broad Daylight” from 1999.

Posted at 18:50 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: In-circuit Testing an Individual 7 Nanometre Transistor on a Taiwan Semiconductor Chip

The nanoprobing technology used in this video was described here on 2021-05-25 in “Probing a Single 7 Nanometre Transistor”.

Posted at 12:08 Permalink


I have cued the video to start five minutes before launch. Pause and scroll back if you wish to start earlier.

Posted at 11:04 Permalink

Saturday, June 5, 2021

CONTEXT: Ben-Hurley-Davidson

Posted at 18:33 Permalink

CONTINUITY: SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy Orbital Test Animation

Posted at 18:24 Permalink

CONTEXT: Seth Shostak—Alien Hunter

Here is my review of Dr Shostak's book, Confessions of an Alien Hunter.

Posted at 12:55 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Two Papers “Proved” This Surface Couldn’t Exist—Then It Was Constructed

Here is background on the Barth sextic, and a deeper dive by John Baez. A 1997 proof showed that no sextic can have more than the 65 double points of Barth's construction.

Posted at 11:02 Permalink

Friday, June 4, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Evidence for Active Volcanoes on Mars?

Posted at 15:56 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Why Do Crowned Pulleys Work? The Second Law of Thermodynamics!

Posted at 14:22 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA: “We're Going Back to Venus”, the DAVINCI+ and VERITAS Missions

From the 1982 Soviet Venera 14 lander, here are images and sounds from the surface of Venus.

Posted at 11:25 Permalink

CONTEXT: Mick West: A Sceptical Look at the U.S. Navy UFO Videos

Posted at 10:48 Permalink

Thursday, June 3, 2021

CONTINUITY: Bitcoin to the Moon!

A Bitcoin transaction was transmitted via Earth-Moon-Earth bounce by radio amateurs, encoded in Morse code. (The tweet should have said “reflected”, not “refracted”.) Here's my tool for encoding arbitrary binary data as five-letter code groups which are easily transmitted in code or by voice.

Posted at 17:12 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX Cargo Dragon CRS-22 Launch to the International Space Station

The launch is scheduled for 17:29 UTC on 2021-06-03. Here is the SpaceX webcast.

Posted at 16:40 Permalink

CONTEXT: Let's Turn a Tupolev Tu-160 Bomber into a Supersonic Business Jet!

Posted at 14:46 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Can You Drink with a Hydrophobic Straw?

Posted at 11:36 Permalink

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

CONTEXT: Clouds of Ammonium Chloride

Another remarkable property of NH₄Cl is that when dissolved in water, it absorbs energy in dissociating, dramatically cooling the solution.

Posted at 14:27 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Tracking Ransomware Payments with the Blockchain and Wolfram Language

Posted at 12:51 Permalink

CONTEXT: Shoebills—They're Dinosaurs…with Automatic Weapons

Here is more about Shoebills (Balaeniceps rex, or “B. rex”). They are very large, with some specimens as tall as 152 cm with a wingspan of 260 cm.

Posted at 12:00 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Origin of the Redstone Missile Program

This U.S. Army film from the 1950s, originally produced for the Big Picture television series, predates the use of the Redstone as a satellite launcher and for suborbital flights in Project Mercury. It is, in part, a recruiting film to persuade engineers to come to Huntsville.

Posted at 10:50 Permalink

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Mars Helicopter Ingenuity—Mission Accomplished, New Adventures Ahead

Posted at 13:48 Permalink

CONTEXT: Rolls Royce Crecy—Pushing Aircraft Piston Engines to the Limit

Here is more on the Crecy engine.

Posted at 12:16 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Vacuum Tube Computer Part 13: Building a NAND Gate to Control the Input Enable Register

Posted at 11:45 Permalink