April 28, 2016

One of These Words Seems Out of Place

Optically. Transparent. Wood.


But wait...there's more.

This actually isn't the first time we've seen wood turned into a transparent material, as nanofibrillated cellulose has been used to create items such as the substrate for wood-based computer chips. According to KTH, however, the new process should be particularly well-suited to large-scale applications and mass production.


...scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have started producing "wooden" semiconductor chips that could almost entirely biodegrade once left in a landfill. As an added bonus, the chips are also flexible, making them prime candidates for use in flexible electronics

"Also enforces obsolescence when they rot."

See? When words are used incorrectly, there is mischief affoot.

"PIXY!! My computer has termites!"

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January 05, 2016

F-Word

The F-word of the evening is FUSION.

As in Fusion bomb.
One of which The People's Democratic Republic of North Korea seems to have just detonated successfully

Note that tonights selection should not in any way preclude one from using any other F-words of one's choice.

Fusion Bombs (ie: Hydrogen bombs) potentially can have vastly more yield than pure fission weapons and, more importantly, can allow much higher yields in small packages suitable for delivery from missiles. 


BTW, that last link (38 North) is one to watch over the next few days with regard to analysis of tonights nuclear test.


UPDATE: There is some skepticism being expressed in some quarters. The Diplomat is estimating the yield at only 10 kilotons (half a Hiroshima) and Jeffery Lewis and others are suggesting that this is a fusion boosted fission weapon, which is technically a fusion weapon but not a real H-bomb.



Canopus. Exactly like tonight's test except for being in the wrong hemisphere, larger, above ground and French.




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December 28, 2015

So. Their Cover Story is...Salt.

Two of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes bring us news from two different planetoids. 



Art by Six

First up, we have what is actually a tad more than week old news from the Main Belt. It seems that scientists going over the data from the Dawn Probe have reached a consensus for their cover story regarding the glowy bits on Ceres. They claim is that it not an alien city nor a steadily charging space laser preparing to wreak havoc upon the Earth, but rather a really big salt lick


Image via

The effect is enhanced by thin clouds of water vapor outgassing in the salty areas that give a refractory effect that one would not normally get on a nigh airless body. It could be that Ceres has cometary properties and is orbiting right on the cusp of its critical distance from the sun. 


Farther afield (quite a bit farther actually) another of our proficient and pulchritudinous planetologists brings us these spectacular videos from the New Horizons flyby of Pluto. These were only recently processed due to the combination of a necessarily slow data transmission rate and the vast amounts of information that New Horizons gathered on its brief pass. 






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November 23, 2015

Well Then. This Would Be a Bad Thing.


"Holy fricking crap!"

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to what Volcano Cafe' has chosen as their final and potentially deadliest entry in their "Volcanoes That We Really Should Be Paying More Attention To because We Don't Know Nearly enough About Them But What We Do Know Is Pretty Scary" series. 

 The whole list is interesting as well as disturbing, but the last on the list is quite the doozy





Already synonymous with misery for unrelated reasons, the worlds bloodiest porkchop may one day bring suffering and death to many far from its bleak shores.

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November 10, 2015

Meanwhile....On Youggoth

It appears that NASA's New Horizons probe may have photographed volcanoes on Pluto.

Well, they certainly DID photograph two mountains that each have big fumaroleesque holes in their tops. Additionally, they seem to be associated with fairly young terrain so it is quite possible that these are, in fact, multi-mile high volcanoes.




Interestingly, these two mountains don't fit into the general pattern of geek addled naming conventions for the planetoid and it's satellite, being named for aviation pioneers ( it's those Piccards, not the other one).

Of course, while volcanoes are the most likely explanation yet, they could be something else, perhaps access tunnels for the saucers of the Sinister Snake-Women of Pluto. 












Err...There's more here.


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November 08, 2015

Nukes on a Flatbed Truck

Russia has announced that they intend to begin producing a series of road mobile nuclear power plants. (via)

The project is called Pamir and the mobile plants are supposed to hiot the road sometime in 2020.

Such a short development time might be cause for considerable skepticism save for one important detail not mentioned in the article. 



The picture is of a previous project, also called "Pamir" which was a Mobile Nuclear Power Plant being developed in the 1980s. The project was suspended after only two had been produced in the aftermath of the Chernobyl unpleasantness.

The concept seems to have been twofold. The plants would power dispersed mobile radar arrays that would be moved around constantly to add uncertainty to any wild weasel operations and they could be dispersed and hidden by the dozens to provide power for rebuilding after a nuclear war.

There is info on this project as well as its antecedents herehere (in Russian) and here...which mentions that it was a gas-cooled reactor based on dinitrogen tetroxide, working on a single – cycle scheme which is quite interesting.


"Oh please...He doesn't have any idea what the hell that means."

Ahem...

There is also a PDF concerning the Pamir from the perspective of its dismantling under a nonproliferation program here

Given that the original design seems to have worked, it may not be a stretch to expect that they could simply spool up production again, though the loss of the original engineering cadre would certainly be a significant hurdle.

To what end they are making this non-trivial expenditure is unclear. A couple of megawats available on 2 flatbeds would certainly be useful in building infrastructure and kick-starting settlements in Siberia, though given current events, the original operational concept may well be closer to the mark.

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November 04, 2015

Space Geysers

The massive south polar geysers of Enceladus from the night side. Picture taken by Cassini on approach during its historic pass through the plumes last week. 




"Because Astro Oceanographic Vulcanology is AWESOME!"

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October 31, 2015

A Want Ad: If Fortran is Your Thing, Your Time is Now

One of Dr. Pournelle's correspondent's passed this along. 

Voyager needs a programmer

Dear Dr. Pournelle, 
Perhaps someone in your reading audience would like to take up the challenge. It seems the current engineer for Voyager 1/2 is retiring.  
http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a17991/voyager-1-voyager-2-retiring-engineer/
So they need someone who is greatly skilled with Fortran and Assembly languages to step in and keep the probe running.    This is old-school programming at its finest; there are only 64kb of memory to work with, and this will be real-time programming , I suspect, with hard constraints. 
I’m a little disappointed. Voyager is the reason I got into computers in the first place, but now after years of writing database and object-oriented programs I don’t have anywhere near the experience required to do this kind of work. I’d be willing to learn ..  but I suspect "willing’ isn’t enough.   "Willing” doesn’t instantly make you an expert in real time software. 
Respectfully,

Brian

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October 28, 2015

PLUME DIVE!



One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to the news that Cassini has survived its plume dive.

Allow us to explain...

Saturn's moon Enceladus is known to have a global, ice-covered ocean. It also has massive geysers in its southern hemisphere that spew the contents of its ocean far above its surface. 




Well, in order to find out exactly what is in its ocean NASA has turned to its only probe in the Saturnian system (Cassini). Since Cassin'is only deployable sub-probe was sent down to Titan, and since scientists have learned about all they can by spectroscopy and other remote methods, they've decided to go for broke and fly the probe on a low pass right through the plume. 

Pictures and other data should be coming in within 48 hours!

In the meantime here is the closest picture ever taken of Enceladus's northern hemisphere which was taken last week...



 Stay Tuned!

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October 24, 2015

There's Going To Need To Be A Re-Release

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes points out the obvious application for the blackest substance ever synthesized by humans.



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October 21, 2015

Today in History

Well...today.

We have twitter, but no self lacing shoes, Mr. Fusion or Hoverbo....


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October 16, 2015

A Rescue Mission MUST Be Undertaken!

For some reason, this story does not have top billing on Drudge, despite its awesome implications.




We should note that one of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Stunning Experts pointed us to the story


Art by Ayaki

UPDATE:The linked story is problematically parsimonious with the pictures. There is a better spread at the Daily Mail of all places and, of course, a bunch of super high-res pictures can be found at the New Horizon's page at  NASA

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October 06, 2015

Simple Processes Involving Layyyzeerrzz



The most strongest of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Fairies brings us news fro the practical application of coherent light. 

Via Brian Wang, we learn that General Atomics (could there BE a more awesome name for a company?) is expected to be offering its line of Avenger drones with 150 kilowatt lasers on them.  The Avenger is a stealthy development of the much used Predator (and was formerly called Predator-C)

For comparison purposes, the article helpfully provides video of what the prototype 30 kilowatt laser on the USS Ponce can achieve. 

WARNING: Military grade laser...demo may cause ear damage and extreme irritation. 


Yes gentle readers, in a little over a year we will have flying robots armed with lasers!
Sarah Connor, raise your son well. 

Farther afield, in San Luis Obispo, Scientists are working on a solar laser that can de-spin asteroids for exploration and exploitation as well as alter their orbits so as to deflect space rocks that threaten to impact the Earth.  

Note too that if they can get a solar laser working, it is just a matter of scaling it up (a whole hell of a lot) to allow interstellar probes, perhaps even manned ones


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September 28, 2015

Meanwhile, on the Second Closest Planet

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes was supposed to be reporting on NASA's news conference today, but instead seems to be focused on organizing an excursion to the beach...




"We're going to need sunblock, some really big mirrors, high yield, low fission fraction H-bombs, a few tons of CFCs, some ham biscuits, lichen, iced tea, blue green algae and a towel."

I'm not sure wh...

"Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

Zounds!


Percival Lowell, he died 99 years too soon.



("Science Babe" is actually Sakura War's Diana Caprice as drawn by Ao Ume)

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September 24, 2015

This is Worrisome

It's not just that these incredibly simple, basic questions were answered correctly by only 6% of the nation...but that one question is not even about science (indeed its opposite).





 

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September 20, 2015

Oh My Stars And Garters YES!


Also this...which is just as awesome but lacks the derp.

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September 14, 2015

Best Picture Yet

...of the exhaust port, alien city, ice deposit or whatever is going on in Occator Crater on Ceres.



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September 10, 2015

More Pluto!

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes brings us news from the edge of the solar system.

Actually, she's not at the edge of the solar system.
Come to think of it, Pluto isn't either, because there is still the Oort Cloud and Kupier Belt which extend for hundreds of AU before one gets to the Heliopause.

Anyway, our science corespondent reports that the experts are cataloging and naming the features on Pluto and Charon....


"Golly. I guess it makes sense that they'd've completely exhausted Edith Hamilton  as a source for names."


Well... 

In any event, NASA has downloaded several high rez pictures from this summer's flyby of the object formerly known as the 9th planet and here are a couple...


Click here for larger.


Click here for supah-size.


Click here to embigulate.


Click here to see at exactly the same size.


Click here to de-lilliputianize...or just go to the NASA site.

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August 10, 2015

The Alien Battle Station We Call Ceres Continues Slowly Charging Its Main Gun

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes discusses the continuing mystery of the bright spots on Ceres.




"When I find out who put that damned, irresponsible, Hoaglandesque post title over MY head. I am going to break my foot of in their a.."

Oh dear. 

In lieu of expert commentary, we will go with the short, quick version:

No one has a good explanation for the glowy bits


Note that "pyramid" is a bit dramatic. It appears to be a steep sided mountain...that glows. 

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August 06, 2015

OK This is REALLY Neat!

Here is an animation of the moon crossing the Earth from a million miles away. Note the lack of rabbits on the far side of the moon.


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July 29, 2015

Meanwhile, In Outer Space

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes brings us news from the International Space Station, where...


...Huh.



OK. She seems busy at the moment.

While we wait for them to get things situated, here are some more links referencing this story.  

Note that they mean the outside of the windows...on the Space Station.

It seems that the organisms are terrestrial marine plankton. though how they got up there is unclear. My initial guess would be cross contamination from 0-G plankton experiments, but the C-Net article suggests air currents or the possibility that the plankton originated from Florida where much of the station was launched from (though that would mean the plankton had survived a rather long time).

Of course all of this is dancing around the fact that there is living greenery on the outside of the space station and we all KNOW what that means

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July 26, 2015

"Have You Ever Seen The Blue Sky?"

This is a disturbing hour and a half that went viral and gained two hundred million views in less than a week before being banned by the Chinese Government.



It even attracted praise from the newly-installed environment minister, Chen Jining, for its contribution to the national debate on public health – but that was before it was abruptly scrubbed from the internet on Friday, ordered offline by the Communist Party's central propaganda department.
 

The segment that begins around 1:00 is disturbing in an entirely different way..as it highlights just how precarious the Chinese industrial economy actually is. 

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July 19, 2015

VOLCANO SHARKS!

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to a report about lava loving hammerheads.


"Can we get LASERS for them?"

In order to study the volcano, Phillips’ team used robots and cameras. While the volcano was not erupting, the images are blurred by orange plumes and bubbles. Carolyn Barnwell, writing for National Geographic, said that in the video "carbon dioxide and methane gas bubbles” can be seen rising from seafloor vents, and that the color of the water was "due to reduced iron and sulfur.”

Phillips and his team were shocked to find both hammerhead and silky sharks, in addition to stingrays and smaller fish, swimming around inside the volcano 

Presumably,  the sharks leave when the caldera fills with lava so this is not actually a Sci-Fi channel movie made real. OTOH it is hoped that this might lead to an eruption prediction system.

Of course, if the sharks preternatural predictive ability amounts to "Hmmm...getting a bit hot here...Let's leave." Then the potential implications are less exciting. 

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July 16, 2015

70 Years Ago Today




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July 14, 2015

New Horizons LIVES!

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to the news that the New Horizons Probe has successfully reestablished contact with NASA.




One thing thing that they added to the list of discoveries is that the planetoid is rather larger than they had thought.

 Preliminary images and instrument readings show that Pluto is much larger than scientists had expected—about two-thirds the size of Earth’s moon. By the most recent measurements, Pluto is about 1,472 miles in diameter, making it easily the biggest planetary object beyond the orbit of Neptune. 
 



Pic via.


It will take some time to get the closet picture processed as the data transmission rate is agonizingly slow, but this pic taken before the probe turned all its antennae on Pluto and its moons gives some idea of what to expect.


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