Tuesday, January 19, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Secrets of the “Nothing Grinder”

Posted at 13:18 Permalink

Monday, January 18, 2021

CONTEXT: Burning Oxygen in an Atmosphere of Propane

Isaac Asimov wrote a science fiction story, “The Dust of Death” based on a similar premise. We now know that the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan is composed mostly of nitrogen, with methane less than 5% by volume.

Posted at 21:37 Permalink

CONTINUITY: US Airways Flight 1549 Ditching in the Hudson River: A Pilot's Analysis

Posted at 16:10 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Virgin Orbit Demo 2 Launch Onboard Camera

Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne air-launched rocket successfully put its payload in orbit after being dropped from the 747 mother ship. Air launching allows all-azimuth launches to be staged without multiple land-based launch sites, and equatorial launches with maximum assist from the Earth's rotation.

Posted at 11:51 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Diogenes: “Learn to live on lentils”

Posted at 02:10 Permalink

Sunday, January 17, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: First Full Test of SLS Booster Fails as Engines Trigger Emergency Shutdown

Here is Scott Manley's quick look analysis of the SLS test firing abort. He notes that in 2020, there was discussion about skipping the “green run” test and proceeding directly to launch. Had they done that, it might have been a really bad day for SLS (but at least the first launch will not carry a crew, although that was also considered in 2020, as part of the push to return to the Moon by 2024).

Posted at 21:17 Permalink

CONTEXT: Building an Apollo Ground Service Equipment Panel Prop

Putting a collection of those cool Apollo-era control panel switches to “work”.

Posted at 14:52 Permalink

CONTINUITY: A Working Edison Light Bulb from 1896

Posted at 13:57 Permalink

Saturday, January 16, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA Space Launch System Test Firing Aborts after 60 Seconds

After 13 years of development and 18 billion dollars spent on development, the Space Launch System core stage test firing shut down 60 seconds into a planned 8 minute test firing, just at the point the engine gimbal test was to start.

The NASA TV commentators are still reading from the script for a successful test.

Update: “Major component failure” (2020-01-16 22:47 UTC)

Posted at 22:35 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage Test Firing

The NASA Space Launch System (SLS) is easily the stupidest orbital launch system ever seriously developed. On each launch, which will cost around a billion US$, not counting the approximately twenty billion in sunk R&D costs before it ever flies, and flying at most once a year, it will discard as junk in the ocean four Space Shuttle Main Engines and two solid rocket boosters, all of which were routinely reused during the thirty years of the Space Shuttle program. Including its predecessor, the Constellation program Ares V, it has been under development for 13 years, whereas the comparable Saturn V took around five years from program start to first flight in the 1960s.

The Space Launch System has been called the “Senate Launch System” because it was largely mandated by politicians to keep NASA centres and contractors busy after the end of the Space Shuttle program. If this and a subsequent unmanned test flight are successful, it is not expected to fly its first crew before the summer of 2023.

The test firing is scheduled for 22:00 UTC on 2021-01-16.

Posted at 14:11 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: I Painted My Entire Room with Musou Black—the World’s Blackest Paint

Posted at 14:04 Permalink

Friday, January 15, 2021

CONTEXT: Humidifiers: Simpler Is Better?

Not mentioned: if you have a lot of lime scale (calcaire) in your water, the the wick of an evaporative humidifier will become less and less effective as its pores are clogged with scale deposits. So, even if you don't have a problem with smelly gunk growing in the humidifier, it's best to replace the wick(s) at least once per season or when you notice the relative humidity falling below where it's normally maintained.

Posted at 20:40 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Facial Recognition Predicts People's Politics with 72% Accuracy

Posted at 12:51 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Mathematicians Resurrect Hilbert’s 13th Problem

Did you know that every smooth cubic surface contains exactly 27 straight lines?

Posted at 12:24 Permalink

Thursday, January 14, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: LED Lamps from Dubai: They Leave the West Behind

Only sold in Dubai: Philips LED lamps that use more LED chips running at lower current, resulting in greater efficiency (light output per electrical power consumed) and much longer life. The initial cost is higher, but the longer life will probably more than recover this. There's an internal voltage regulator which keeps the lamps from dimming or brightening when the mains voltage varies (but means they won't work with dimmers).

Posted at 15:55 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Blue Origin NS-14 Suborbital Launch

The live Webcast is scheduled to begin at 15:15 UTC on 2021-01-14, with launch scheduled for 15:45 UTC. These launch times have frequently been delayed in the past.

Posted at 12:02 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX Starship SN9 Performs Three Static Firings in One Day

Posted at 11:57 Permalink

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

CONTEXT: Heeees back!

Posted at 19:35 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: The Many Forms of Brassica oleracea

And don't forget Brassica’s wacky fractal sibling, Romanesco!

Posted at 13:06 Permalink

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

CONTINUITY: Origin of the UNIVAC 1103A Scientific Computer (1953, 1956) ERA, Sperry Rand

The Univac 1101 through 1105, all vacuum tube machines, were the first generation of ERA/Univac scientific computers. The second generation, the transistorised Univac 1107, retained the original 36 bit word length, but re-architected the machine into what would be the 1100/2200 series for decades to come. The story of the 1107 and successors picks up in my Univac Memories archive.

Posted at 19:34 Permalink