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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