Two of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes react to the awesomeness that is unveiling of The Dragon Mk2 capsule by SPACE-X founder Elon Musk.
If it works as advertised it will be a huge advance on all previous space vehicles in a number of areas.
While it lacks the shuttles cargo bay, it can cary just as many astronauts (7). and looks surprisingly roomy. It can land anywhere as opposed to the two or three airports the space shuttle could use and it is designed with very quick turnaround times in mind. This is significant as the shuttle, while technically resuseable, had to be rebuilt after each flight at great expense. Indeed, refurbishing the solid rocket boosters cost more than simply making disposable ones, and contributed to the O-Ring design that doomed the crew of Challenger,
Of course reusing the capsule offers limited cost savings if the booster is thrown away. At least one Gemini capsule was flown in space twice and that did not make it a viable commercial system. To that end SPACE-X plans to reuse the first and second stages of Falcon 9 boosters it will use to boost both Dragon capsules and unmanned satellites into space.
The boosters will cary enough extra fuel to soft land at the launch point, the second stage actually doing one full orbit. This is wasteful of fuel, and reduces payload but makes up for it in preserving the hardware (kerosene is cheap).
We've covered the tests here before, but a few months ago the Dragonfly Grasshopper test vehicle made the last of its many flights, reaching an altitude of a kilometer.
Future versions will have retractable landing legs for streamlining during high speed tests and Falcon launches starting with the one this past April, are being fitted with the retractable legs to work out any bugs before the full up re-useable tests begin.
This is a logical and step by step approach that has as much likelihood as anything of succeeding. In a decade or so we may finally have the space hotels, moon bases, asteroid mines and Mars missions we were promised in our youth.
It's Not Like a Bike At All
With no one in the house to disturb, I've started practicing the piano again for the first time in 15 or 20 years. The first obstacle to overcome was the lack of any sheet music, but I scrounged up an old hymnal. My first indication of how daunting the task ahead of me is was wasting a moment remembering what the squigglypoo and the backwards C were called. Upon starting to play beat upon keys I realized that my basic hand coordination had atrophied BADLY. I've got a lot of work to do.
I used to be decent at this, but, it appears that playing Senbonzakura is rather a bit farther off that I had hoped.
As I mentioned in the update to the previous post, my parents met with multiple calamities in the Gulf. They made it back to Key West and my father determined that the damage is not fixable in the short term They are going to attempt limp back to Portsmouth where we can work on it at a more leisurely pace and where professional assistance is much cheaper.
Of course with the steering out Dad has to set up the tiller and they don't trust the engine not to spew oil into the bilge again to use it for extended periods. They got their bilge pumped in Key West and have lots of oil pads but the danger of leaving a sheen is too great to have the bilge pump on automatic, so they're coming back, using the sails, a tiller and a sextant. The last two will give no trouble but dad is not particularly experienced with sails so this has the makings of an adventure.
At least they will be traveling with the Gulf Stream. On the down side the boarders of the Gulf Stream is a playground for waterspouts.
When I saw where they were headed, my big concern was that they would inadvertantly infringe Cuban territorial waters. Now that they're at Key West and headed north, that danger at least is alleviated, and I'm glad.
The LAST thing you needed was for your parents to be captured and held by Cuban authorities.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Tue May 27 20:58:35 2014 (X/kQu)
At least I think my daughter does not care too much when I barrel down a mountain pass at 70 mph where it's marked 25 or fly a little airplane that is unfortunately miswired so that hitting a master switch with a sectional chart makes the engine quit.
You know, it strikes me that it's not just that the boat needs an overhaul, but that your parents need some kind of Murphy's Law repellent. You might seriously want to look into St. Christopher medals (or St. Nicholas medals, given the seafaring thing).
OTOH, they did a lot better with an ocean ship than I would have done! I can help you with a lake or a river, and that's about it.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Wed May 28 14:10:37 2014 (nh8FR)
I traveled from Nantucket, Ma to Niantic, Ct in an old '72 Luhrs 28, with an engine that spit out about a quart of oil every two hours or so - in small craft advisory conditions. The pads, even in the best of a sea state, are not designed for that kind of use.
back in '89, when i made that trip, the fine for discharge was about the same, but they looked the other way if you were in a bad situation. I seriously doubt that would be the case nowadays.
I wish them well on the rest of the journey. Do you think they are going to try again?
Posted by: topmaker at Wed May 28 17:15:36 2014 (2yZsg)
7At least they will be traveling with the Gulf Stream.
How close to shore can your parents sail and still ride the Gulf Stream? Hopefully close enough that they can make a quick dash to safety if the weather turns nasty, or if something else on the boat craps out. (In an emergency, they could run for shore on engine power, and never mind the oil leak--they might have to pay a fine, but at least they'd be safe.)
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Wed May 28 17:39:33 2014 (wa0JQ)
You and that blasted school. There has to be a better way.
BTW, my wife was a bit dismayed when I shared some of your past school adventures and she was full of useful advice that I did not know how to relay. She's a master at hacking the American educationonal system.
I see the twins are back. (I just wasted ENTIRELY too much of my evening crawling through that with the pause button).
There appear to be a lot more characters, which can be problematic. On the other hand, Pyrrha features heavily in the OP so the season may have a focus on her, which is acceptable because Pyrrha is win.
The arm reversal between her and Jaune compared to the season 1 OP is a nice touch. It looks like JNPR are indeed going to be the duteragonists.
Velvet's team certainly looks interesting.
I find it interesting the CRDNL is included.
Wow. The Rooster Teeth eye catch is really irritating.
"Arm reversal"? I'm obviously missing something very basic here...
Posted by: Siergen at Mon May 26 22:21:36 2014 (WVGDf)
Good LORD that was awkwardly worded.
In the OP to season one Jaune is looking somberly up at the statue and Pyrrha puts her hand on his shoulder in a supportive gesture, foreshadowing how she gave him support (and flat out saved his ass) buying him time while he overcame the considerable obstacles he faced in getting his act together. In the second OP, this is reversed. Pyrrha is looking a bit forlorn and Jaune appears, placing his hand on her shoulder as if to say "I've got your back." This could be foreshadowing something or simply an acknowledgement that Jaune has really come a long way. In fact, despite being one of the B list characters, he's the only character who had significant on screen character development in volume one. (Weiss had a bit but her's was almost entirely off screen, in the EP song of episode 16).
On This Day In Aviation History
On May 23rd 1908, John Morrell prepared to conquer the skies in an airship of his own design. At 450 feet long, and filled with about 500,000 cubic feet of illuminating gas, the vessel was actually longer than any of the German Zeppelins that had flown. It was also a much more powerful ship as well, with five engines against the two in the German craft.
In front of 15,000 citizens of Berkley California, the ship was made ready for flight. The crew of 15 boarded the vessel and manned their stations. 4 photographers were along as well to record the historic event. With everything secured, the mooring lines were set loose.
Morrell and his crew then sailed into aviation history.
Not only was this the largest airship built up to that time, the 20 people it took aloft were by FAR the largest number of people that had flown in single aircraft. One might note that 15 + 4 does not equal 20, but that is because the ship had another aviation first. An Australian aeronaut, a Captain Penfold, had somehow managed to sneak on board, conceal himself (somehow) and thus became the first stowaway in the history of powered aviation!
The mighty dirigible began to cruise over the city at an altitude of 300 feet. The airship undulated regally for a while, as Morrell and his crew began to perform maneuvering tests. However, as if to reinforce the unfortunate imagery, after an unsatisfyingly short time, there emanated from the bow, an Earth shattering "POP!".
The forward end of the envelope burst open and deflated, beginning a rapid decent, while the stern remained aloft. Those in the bow had a remarkably gentle landing....for a brief moment....
...until the rest of the crew...and the engines fell on them as the gangway became vertical. The engines equipment and crew coalesced into a modernist sculpture of metal, blood, expletives and compound fractures.
Miraculously, although there were a LOT of broken bones, no one was actually killed. Morrell himself sustained a dislocated hip, broken leg and internal injuries. Capt. Penfold , the stowaway, was drug from the wreck with two broken ankles.
The stern remained inflated and partially aloft for some time as a mute, Freudian testimony to the truly epic level of ignominy that Morrill and his intrepid crew of dildonauts had achieved....on this day in aviation history.
It's easy to look back on some of the experimentation that took place between 1890 and 1910, and for us to say, "What were they thinking? Did they really think that would work?"
But the reason we think that is that they tried it and failed, and we have learned from their failure. In those days they didn't know what an airplane was supposed to look like. They didn't know what a blimp was supposed to look like.
So the guy who built a plane with something like 7 wings stacked above one another? Well, now we know it doesn't work, because he tried it. That's how you learn things.
So we shouldn't laugh at people like this. Failure is part of the process, and those who are afraid to fail never achieve anything.
I generally agree with that sentiment and in a way this fellow's determination is inspiring. The ship was cobbled together with junk including fishing nets and the actual gas bag was made from varnished canvas rather than silk. I haven't been able to find out a lot about the fellow but he seems to have deeply resented professional advice. At least one Russian and one Australian Balloonist who were in San Fran for at the time offered him assistance and advice and he refused it, going so far as to ban the Australian from the launch ceremony.... As I mentioned Capt Penfold was undeterred. The Russian, a Colonel Postnikov, felt that in addition to the vehicles manifest deficiencies ,the gas bag had been dangerously overfilled and was under unsafe pressure. His advice to vent before launching was not followed and would seem to indicate that safety vents were not installed.
For a vehicle built using the Little Rascals school of aerospace engineering it was a remarkable accomplishment and might have been. The ability to elevate and train the airscrews for vectored thrust was an idea decades ahead of it's time. The guts to actually do this is a rare quality indeed and yet.....
COME ON STEVEN LOOK AT IT...
I know, I am a bad man.
More than that, it is a very good Kaiju flick. The people who did this movie seem to have a great appreciation for the genre and how it works.
Most impressively...this is a good GODZILLA film, which is not quite the same thing. That they got so much right rather surprised me, though it probably shouldn't since at the insistence of director Gareth Edwards, Legendary Pictures hired Toho's Yoshimutsu Banno (who directed Godzilla VS Hedorah) as executive producer, additionally Japanese A-lister Ken Watanabe plays Dr Serazawa.
In this age of CGI, special effects are hardly exceptional but this film has some splendid visuals that are uncommonly well used to convey scale and menace. The pacing builds up steadily to the climax and there are quite a few surprises along the way.
OK, so they have Kaiju. But do they have giant robots fighting said Kaiju?
Posted by: Siergen at Wed May 21 17:18:23 2014 (WVGDf)
I guess Toho wanted too much for Jet Jaguar and Marvel couldn't be persuaded to let them use Red Ronin.
If the previous sentence has any meaning to you, then you have probably wasted your life.
Thoughts on Tyson's Dismissal of Philosophy
While I share some of the frustrations Neil DeGrasse Tyson has with those who endlessly debate inane philosophical points, l a bit am wary of those dismiss all philosophical inquiry or ethical questions as pointless inhibitions on the road to progress. Such admonitions bring to mind the utopian efforts of the eugenicists, a group who surely were not questioned enough about the details and implications of their premises, objectives and methods. Those involved in the experiments upon Albert Stevens and others could have benefitted from "asking deep questions". Elsewhere, similar avenues of research, divorced from any inhibiting tendencies that philosophical reflection and debate might have produced, resulted in Buchenwald.
Thus, as much awesome as he exudes in popularizing science, Tyson's statement that students should actively avoid any philosophy courses and that any questions along philosophical lines are a waste of time is rather worrisome. His argument is superficially utilitarian...the irony of which is no doubt lost on Dr Tyson, but somewhere David Hume and Jeremy Bentham are amused....but unimpressed.
A much more articulate and literate take on this can be found here. (via Borepatch)
Well, I Know What I'll Be Watching This Winter.
Like the previous one, this trailer for the upcoming Yamato film has no animation. But it's 31 seconds long as opposed to 16. Also, there is music this time, music that will mean nothing to those who did not watch the old show. The rest of us however, are a bit enthused.
The original show, in addition to being funny, was a touching, beautifully portrayed love story that amongst all the hilarity, involved Rikka coming to terms with her loss and getting her act together. The sequel has her pretty much back to where she was for most of the series...except that Rikka and Yuta are definitely a couple. I confess that at first I thought the two of them were just joking with regard to Rikka's active fantasy world, but alas no, and no explanation is given for the regression. Were it not for specific references to the Christmas party in the first serie,s this show could easily have been set during the same time frame as that show...and it might have been more satisfying.
Whereas Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions is about moving forward and growing up, '...Heart Throb' is, in many ways, a renunciation of that. On the surface the show glorifies stability above all else and seems actively hostile to the notion of personal development. For instance, the new character Sophia comes dangerously close to character development...but dodges that bullet with great verve and skill. Great effort is made to ensure that everything remains exactly as it is at the beginning*. I know nothing about the source material for this show, but the this glaring difference makes me wonder if the sequel is a response to fan complaints.
However, the show is quite entertaining in its own right and it made me laugh out loud several times.
With the two main lovebirds relationship pretty much fixed, there is some development exploration of the other characters.
Nibutani in particular, actually comes off as quite likable and decent in this series. She is an important part of a rather unexpected dynamic in the show that it is a bit deeper and more nuanced in its view of Otakudom than one might expect.
Despite the show's overall tone of aggressive Otaku affirmation '...Heart Throb' is not entirely sanguine about the subject. There is a somewhat creepy cour (with VERY creepy undertones) that involves the implications of fandom as a cult and it's handled pretty well...imaginary magical battle notwithstanding.
The show is cute, wacky and often quite weird...
...and occasionally even weirder still.
While it is not quite as good as its predecessor in that it does little to advance the cast, it is still a thoroughly enjoyable show
*...well...except for Isshiki, who is last seen dealing with a development that might or might not be truly horrible for him...the writers are rather vague on that point.
The Thing in The HagueThe Chrysler Museum of Art reopened last Saturday after a long hiatus. This was a most welcome development as The Chrysler is one of the finest art museums in the Southeastern United States. It's collection is vast and includes the original piece that was the inspiration for this profound and thoughtful work...
In any event, I had not had time to get through the whole museum last Saturday so the plan for today was to spend the afternoon at the museum.
However, I noted as I headed down Hampton Blvd. that all was not right near the museum. SomeTHING was peering out from behind the Unitarian Church. This THING seemed to actually be in the Hague (the tributary of the Elizabeth River that the museum overlooks). As I turned the corner I began to grasp the sheer scale of the doom that had come to Norfolk....
His father, Abraham Doumar, a Lebanese immigrant, set up a snack stand at the St Louis Exposition. There he ran out of cups for his ice cream but extemporized a work around using waffles wrapped into cones as edible containers. This was a spectacular success and Doumar made enough money there to set up a buisness in Norfolk in 1905. After refining the concept of the edible ice cream container into something slightly more durable than a waffle, he had a local machine shop build him a semiautomatic cone making machine, the first one in the world. In 1907 Abe and his brother sold 23,000 cones at the Jamestown Exposition. The original ice cream parlor was destroyed in the disasterous hurricane of 1933 and relocated (along with the cone machine) to 1919 Granby Street in 1934.
Albert Doumar returned from sevice in the Pacific Theater in World War Two and took over operation of Doumars when Abraham died in 1947. Shortly thereafter, he remodeled the ice cream stand into one of the first drive-ins with curb service and waitresses on rollerskates.
Doumar's has been a Norfolk institution for decades, with astoundingly good ice cream and barbecue as well as a small, nondescript looking cheeseburger that is so good it defies logic. Doumars is still a soda shop and all manner of carbonated bliss can be had there from modern sodas to old fashioned creations like lime or cherry-aid.
For as long as I can remember Albert Doumar was a fixture at the ice cream parlor that carries his family name, making ice cream cones and talking to customers. He rebuffed numerous offers over the years by the Smithsonian to take his fathers machine and display it in DC. Instead he continued to use it to make the stores signiture cone...which I strongly advise people to partake of while the machine is still there. The store which was ahead of its time in so many ways is something of an anachronism now, but its still in operation, complete with bobbysocks, rollerskates and a 109 year old cone machine.
He was always friendly and courteous. Several times, I took exchange students there and he would break out old photo albums to show and explain to them a world long past.
Albert Doumar lived a full life, and was a thouroughly decent fellow who, via both his business and personality, made Norfolk a more pleasant place.