Sarah Palin will pry your Klondike bar from your cold dead fingers.

calendar   Sunday - August 02, 2009


Might be light posting today ....Will see how the day goes.
This ain’t a bad start though.  How can a building do this and not fall apart as it rolls over.
Any guesses?

The story originated with AP but ... that bldg on the right sure looks familiar.

A building demolition in Turkey went seriously wrong on Saturday when, instead of collapsing, it rolled over onto its roof.


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 08/02/2009 at 05:56 AM   
Filed Under: • MiscellaneousScience-Technology •  
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calendar   Monday - July 20, 2009

Two Hours And Thirty Minutes To Go

40 Years Ago Today, Mankind First Landed On The Moon


You can follow the whole mission in “real time” over at We Choose The Moon, who has done an excellent recreation. Once the whole mission is complete, you will be able to go back and forth to all the points along the mission path, but for now it’s “live”; you can listen in to the radio communications and watch the well done graphics. Plus there are all sorts of links to still photos, etc. has more, along with about a million other web pages.

If you were born after 1964 this probably doesn’t mean much to you. But for those of us old enough to remember it, this event just about brought the nation to a halt. This was the ultimate achievement, the culmination of an American dream. Back in the early 60s, when our rockets could barely get off the ground, JFK had challenged us to do it in under a decade. And we did. And it was done without massive computer power on board. This was the biggest “FTW” ever, to put it in today’s terms.

Go and watch. Relive the dream. And leave it for tomorrow to wonder where that country went, and why.

partial screen capture from We Choose The Moon


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/20/2009 at 04:40 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - July 02, 2009

Math for Breakfast

In one of my posts the other day I mentioned that I had to do a bit of cleaning up here at the blog, and that I was keeping an eye on space limits. Peiper wrote me about it, so I jokingly replied that he should stop uploading those 20GB pictures of Carla Bruni.

He wrote back with a bit of confusion about megs and gigs and file sizes, so I started writing another one of my computer education email replies back, when I realized, WTH, make a post out of it. So here goes.


Strange, but every number related to computers is done in Base 2, since the heart of a computer is the simple transistor, which is either on (1) or off (0). This leads to some really large, odd looking numbers when you’re talking about larger values, so people have come up common words to express those numbers. These words, prefixes actually, have become common in our language and are used by everyone, even though most people round them off to the nearest power of ten. But computers are very exact, so we won’t do any rounding in this discussion.

8 bits to the byte. 8b = 1B. 1/2 a byte is called a nibble, but nobody uses this term anymore. Nobody hardly even thinks of bits anymore either. Bytes are the common unit of data. All a single bit is, really, is an On/Off switch. You can store some meaning in a byte, but not much. 8 bits limits you to 28 numbers, a mere 256 of them, with the values 0-255. A 32 bit “word” of 4 bytes, or a 64 bit “word” of 8 bytes, is more realistic, but for now we all use bytes as the common size measurement. Units of bits are written as Xb, units of bytes are written as XB. Nuance! Moving right along ...

210 bytes = 1024, which is 1 kilobyte, also called 1KB or 1K. For everything other than computers, 1K = 1000.
220 bytes = 1,048,576, which is 1 megabyte, 1MB. 1M for the rest of everything = 1 million.
230 bytes = 1,073,741,824, which is 1 gigabyte, 1GB. 1G in common use = 1 billion.
240 bytes = 1,099,511,627,776, which is 1 terabyte, 1TB. 1T of anything else = 1 trillion.

Yes, that’s the American billion. And trillion? Sorry, but I didn’t write the rules. The next larger unit is the petabyte, 250 bytes, 1PB. what we over here call a zillion. This is a number even larger than the total US National Debt. You may insert your own “PETA bites” joke here.

Still with me? Great. Today’s LCD computer monitors are usually in the 16:9 format, which is the width to height ratio. For a 22” diagonal screen of that ratio, this gives you a screen 19.17” wide and 10.79” tall.

The human eye can only distinguish about 3780 x 2485 pixels, which equates to the 1 arcminute (1/60th of one degree) resolving power of the eye on a screen that size. Right now, it looks like Toshiba has a wicked expensive high resolution 22” monitor that does 3840 x 2400 pixels, which is right at the limit of human perception. Awesome. And about $18,000.

Let’s assume price is no object, and that Toshiba has the ability to stitch several of these together to make an ultra-resolution “JumboTron”. Ok. Now let’s assume dear Carla is quite tall, so we’ll need a screen a bit over 6 feet wide to display her life-size, lying down. That means our “UltraTron” monitor would be made from 12 of these smaller ones, 3x4, to give a screen size 32.37” tall and 76.68” wide. I’ll leave it to you to build the graphics card. Anyway, this display would have a resolution of 15,360 x 7200. 110, 592,000 pixels. Call it 110.6Mp.

“Full color” graphics currently means “32 bit color”, which means a pixel can be any one of 232 colors. 4,294,967,296 colors, to be exact. A 32 bit color bitmap file of a 110.6Mp image works out to a file size of 17,623,131 bytes, which is 16.41GB. Run that file on the quarter million dollar monitor described above and you can look at Carla as large as life and in a level of detail you couldn’t tell from real life.

So, unless you’ve got some larger than life, ultra-detailed photos to upload, don’t worry about it. BMEWS has a mere 1.5GB of storage space, which is plenty enough for the time being.

My first computer was upgraded (!!) from a 10MB to a 32MB hard drive. A good old Seagate ST-4096. It was HUGE! Plus I ran a Perstor card on it, which converted the drive to over 120MB!!!  Beyond massive in those days. 20 years later, right now, for about £55, you can buy a 1TB drive. A terabyte hard drive. For $90. Horry Clap! 1TB is 32,768 (32K) times bigger than 32MB. And the price is a third what I paid back then for the ST-4096, plus the money itself is worth less than half as much. Amazing.

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/02/2009 at 03:08 PM   
Filed Under: • Blog StuffScience-Technology •  
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calendar   Saturday - June 27, 2009


You know what I hate? I hate when a blogger puts up a post that really, really begs private comment, and then supplies a false email address. I spent the better part of an hour doing research, running numbers, and building graphics - to scale, no less - and then put it all in an email ... that got rejected, because the account didn’t actually exist.

So here’s the picture. I won’t give the details, but they’re obvious: we are vulnerable as all hell to EMP. I have no doubts at all that the USA is the most integrated circuit intensive nation on earth. Sure, Japan may have more per person, and way cooler cell phones too, but we’re about 500 times the size of them.

And this is just about the one and only way Mr. Me So Ronery can make good his threat to destroy the US that he came out with the other day, that the Pentagon sneered at. All it takes is ONE MIRV MISSILE. Just one, with just 3 warheads. Heck, our ICBMs had 10 or more each.


60 miles up isn’t even half the altitude of Low Earth Orbit. Maybe we should nuke the NorKs on July 3rd, just to play it safe.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/27/2009 at 03:13 AM   
Filed Under: • North-KoreaScary StuffScience-Technology •  
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calendar   Thursday - June 11, 2009

No Seasickness on this ship

USS Rancocas, LS-1


Where else? This one lives in New Jersey. In Moorestown actually. In the middle of a farm field.

Yes, the US Navy considers this to be an actual commissioned ship. The USS Ranconos is the 2nd and last LS ( Land Ship ) in the fleet, though it is designated Number 1.

The “Cornfield Cruiser,” or “Ship in the Cornfield”

It is the test facility for the U.S. Navy’s AEGIS Fleet Defense System. The facility is commissioned as USS Rancocas.

It is in a cornfield because the land upon which it is built is owned by a farmer that still grows corn there. The owners of the facility have a 99-year lease. Upgrades developed at this facility are then installed on the USS Norton Sound for testing at sea. The final product is then transfered to combat ships, USS Ticonderoga for example.

Every year, on the first Saturday in December, the Rancocas is decorated with flags that read “GO NAVY” and “BEAT ARMY.”

Description:  A complete cruiser ship’s bridge on a building.

The facility shown below is known as CSEDS, or the Combat System Engineering Development Site. It is used primarily to test the world’s most powerful and effective sea based radar known as the Aegis Radar system. The facility below is also the only landlocked commissioned US Naval vessel which is designated as the USS Rancocas and houses an entire crew of naval personnel.

While many of today’s passing motorists are amazed by the landlocked ship’s bridge, 30 years ago drivers were equally mesmerized by the giant “golf ball” at the same location.

From 1960 to 1975, a 15-story, 140-foot-wide, snow-white radar dome was a landmark. The radar station was built by Radio Corp. of America and operated by the Air Force as a prototype of a ballistic-missile early warning system.

The “golf ball” housed an 84-foot-wide antenna. The housing could protect the antenna from winds up to 180 m.p.h. and temperatures of 65 degrees below zero.

In 1972, some residents in Willingboro claimed the radar station caused buzzing sounds in their televisions, radios and intercoms.

The station was used to track satellites as the Cold War was winding down and was labeled obsolete as more sophisticated radar systems were developed. The “golf ball” was replaced by the ship’s bridge in 1976.

Another picture can be found here.

I have no idea why this ship is designated LS-1. It ought to be LLS-2, since LLS-1, the USS Desert Ship is still “afloat” at White Sands NM, as a missile launch test site ship.

Hey, at least in New Jersey our not-really-a-ship ship sort of at least looks a bit like a ship. Well, part of one anyway.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/11/2009 at 06:50 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffMilitaryScience-Technology •  
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calendar   Wednesday - May 13, 2009

Stealth bomber photographed breaking sound barrier .

Have you folks seen this already?  I just found it. Wow. Imagine (I can’t) piloting something that can do this?
WOW again.

Wright Bros. could never have dreamed of this. 
I suppose now the question could be asked, why?
Answer. Cause.

Stealth bomber photographed breaking sound barrier
A stealth bomber is frozen in time as it breaks the sound barrier during a test flight above the Californian desert.

Last Updated: 10:37AM BST 13 May 2009


Its unmistakable teardrop profile is shrouded in the blur of a condensation cloud as it reaches high subsonic speed.

The striking image of the B-2, officially known as the Spirit Bomber, was taken as the aircraft soared over Palmdale, near Los Angeles.

It was released to coincide with the announcement of upgraded military software for the United States Air Force’s fleet of 20 B-2s.

The bomber is central to America’s air warfare capabilities and is the flagship of the nation’s long-range strike arsenal, with the ability to unleash conventional and nuclear weapons.

Its stealth comes from a combination of reduced acoustic, infrared, visual and radar signatures, making it difficult for opposition defences to detect, track and engage the aircraft.

They have seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The B-2 can travel as high as 50,000ft and weighs 153,700lbs without its payload of bombs.

The cloud effect is caused by a vapour cone also known as the “Prandtl-Glauert singularity”.

It appears when there is a sudden drop in air pressure around aircraft travelling just above or below the speed of sound.

These condensation clouds, also known as “shock collars”, are frequently seen during space shuttle launches but their precise nature is still under debate.

US defence contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation disclosed on Tuesday that it is installing upgraded software in the B-2 bombers’ flight management system.

A statement from technology group Semantic Designs, which designed the software, said the project “will enhance and extend the lifetime of the B-2”.

The company said: “Although the B-2 is the Air Force’s newest bomber, its computers and processors require upgrade to keep up with integration efforts.

“Expanded and more reliable systems are necessary to maintain the B-2’s leading edge combat capabilities.”



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 05/13/2009 at 01:26 PM   
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calendar   Monday - May 11, 2009

Atlantis Rising

Once More Into The Breach


Space Shuttle Atlantis has picture perfect lift-off for its last mission. Their mission is to do some repairs and maintenance on the Hubble Telescope. The flight is deemed risky because it will require at least 5 space walks, and because the Hubble is in an orbital path strewn with space junk.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The seven-member crew of space shuttle Atlantis lifted off Monday for one of the riskiest shuttle flights yet — so risky, in fact, that another space shuttle is ready to launch in case they need to be rescued.

Atlantis launched at 2:01 p.m. EDT on one last maintenance mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, the 19-year-old orbiting observatory that floats at an altitude littered with space debris.

lift off

The spacecraft rocketed into mostly sunny skies right on schedule at 2:01 p.m. ET. Atlantis will spend five days upgrading the Hubble, the orbiting observatory that’s been scanning the universe for almost two decades.

For the seven members of the shuttle crew, that means added pressure.
“I think [this] is motivating us because we know there’s nobody coming after us to do anything we don’t get done,” said Atlantis Commander Scott Altman. “This is it. We either get it done or it doesn’t happen.”
It’s been seven years since NASA’s last Hubble servicing mission in 2002, and the space telescope was designed to go only about three years between fixes.

NASA canceled an Atlantis mission to extend Hubble’s operational life in January 2004 because the trip was considered too risky in the wake of the 2003 Columbia tragedy that killed seven astronauts. But public pressure and the development of safer shuttle technology led the U.S. space agency to reconsider.Video See shuttle astronauts discuss Hubble repair mission »

Still, some risks remain. NASA has estimated there’s a 1-in-221 chance the shuttle could be struck by orbiting space debris from past missions. Thousands of objects hurtle through the heavens, some as large as several feet in diameter, and the Hubble’s orbit is more crowded with space junk than that of the international space station, which orbits at a lower altitude, NASA said.

While the Atlantis’s shields would likely deflect a small piece of debris, a larger object could cripple the spacecraft, NASA said. Space shuttle Endeavour is on standby in the unlikely event that NASA will need to rescue the Atlantis crew members during their 11-day mission.

During five grueling space walks some 350 miles up in space, a pair of two-man teams from the Atlantis will work on the Hubble inside Atlantis’ cargo bay.

Nearly 30,000 people were at Kennedy Space Center for the launch, including space-center workers and guests.

On this fifth and final repair mission, Atlantis’ crew will replace Hubble’s batteries and gyroscopes, install two new cameras and take a crack at fixing two broken science instruments, something never before attempted.

Those instruments, loaded with bolts and fasteners, were not designed to be tinkered with in space.  They also will remove the command and data-handling unit that failed in September and had to be revived, and put in a spare that was hustled into operation. Fresh insulating covers will be added to the outside of the telescope, and a new fine guidance sensor for pointing will be hooked up. Five spacewalks will be needed to accomplish everything.

Lift-offs at NASA sure have changed since I was a kid. Or maybe we’ve just become so blase about it. I remember that voice “This is Mission Control”, and the TV being on, with the news cameras watching the rocket for hours and hours before the event. And it was, Look! Here come the astronauts! And the mission clock. Oh, the clock. So many times it had to be stopped because of some little problem. But finally everything would be right, the clock would be running and the final seconds ticking down. There go the liquid oxygen lines. There goes the main gantry. And the whole country sat on the edge of their seats watching, sharing that “T Minus 5, T Minus 4 T Minus 3” countdown as we sweated, worried, and prayed that huge but spindly thing off the ground, with Our Boys up there on the pointy end. “We have ignition!” and a fireball the size of your neighborhood lit off. The secondary gantry fell away as the ship began to move; how could such a great ungainly thing stay balanced? How could it fly straight, it doesn’t even have fins? The whole launch platform engulfed in roaring burning thunder as the rocket rose against implacable gravity. And faster and higher she went, a tongue of fire rising into the clouds. And so another mission began. And the whole nation exhaled.

I caught the lift-off in real time on TV a little while ago. I didn’t even know there was a launch today. The TV news station didn’t cue the voice-over to Mission Control. Is there even still a voice of Mission Control? There wasn’t even a countdown, or a countdown clock on the screen. The announcer just kept right on talking as the engines fired off. It was like “yadda yadda yadda, there it goes, yappity yap yap.” But at least the cameramen still knew their jobs, and we got to see the ignition, the lift-off, and that arcing awesome amazing action as Atlantis rose to skies, one last time.

Godspeed Atlantis.

Space Shuttle Mission: STS-125
Liftoff! Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-125 Astronauts En Route to Hubble

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today, rising on twin columns of fire to embark on ST-125, the final shuttle mission to service NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Veteran astronaut Scott Altman is serving as commander, and retired Navy Capt. Gregory C. Johnson will serve as pilot. Mission specialists rounding out the crew are: veteran spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino, and first-time space fliers Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.

Main Engine Cutoff: Atlantis Reaches Orbit
Mon, 11 May 2009 02:11:10 PM EDT

After a smooth countdown and picture-perfect liftoff, space shuttle Atlantis and a crew of seven astronauts are in space, ready to begin their 11-day mission to service NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis lifted off Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:01 p.m. EDT.

From the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the booster officer confirmed Atlantis’ trio of main engines cut off on time at 2:10 p.m. With Atlantis safely in orbit, its giant external fuel tank was jettisoned. Onboard cameras recorded the tank’s condition as it fell away from Atlantis and descends toward Earth.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/11/2009 at 05:27 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - April 16, 2009

if you had the money, would you spend about $20,000 to look like your children? She did.

When I first saw this, and I’m still not convinced there isn’t a mistake in the photo caption, I was going to pass it by as just more fluff and go for more serious stuff.  But then I read the caption and thought HUH? Can’t be.

Is it me or do any of you find that the daughter actually looks more like the mother in age appearance. And the mom looks better.  ????


The 50-year-old mother who has spent £10,000 on surgery to look like her daughter

By Katherine Knight and Kelly Strange

Last updated at 8:22 AM on 16th April 2009

With their flowing blonde hair, hourglass figures and slender, toned legs, they could easily pass for twins. Both look fabulous in their matching polka dot dresses and, as Janet and Jane Cunliffe happily recount, potential boyfriends often struggle to tell them apart.

the boyfriends struggle to what?  guys are smart huh? you bet. what male is gonna tell his girlfriend he thinks she’s her mom. it’s like when a lady asks you how a dress looks on her or do you think she’s a bit heavy. the answer is ALWAYS, the dress looks great because you make it look great. and heavy?  NO WAY. do I look okay?  ABSOLUTELY! you look great.  she won’t believe a word you say but its what she wants to hear. i have this sort of silly theory which of course I can not prove.  we guys were put here to make women happy and yeah spoil em too if it comes to that. why the heck not?  so if a small fib will make em happy or pleased about themselves, aren’t they damn well worth it? i think they are.

”<bPhoto Removed By Owner’s Request” name="Photo Removed By Owner’s Request” width="418" height="418" align left/>

Hardly surprising, as both weigh in at 8st and, save for a couple of inches in height (at 5ft 6in, Jane is two inches taller) and different eye colours (Jane’s are brown, Janet’s are blue) they are virtually identical.

But Janet and Jane are not twins. They aren’t even sisters. They are mother and daughter. And, in what many will see as a depressing indictment of today’s youth-obsessed society, Janet confesses to having spent more than £10,000 on plastic surgery in a desperate effort to bridge the 22-year age gap between herself and her daughter.

In this image-conscious age, it is a bittersweet moment for many mothers to confront the fact that their daughter’s beauty eclipses her own.

It is a rite of passage that most women, while far from thrilled, are pragmatic enough to accept as a part of life.

But not 50-year-old Janet. She views the small matter of being in her sixth decade as a mere technicality.

She is amused and proud that friends jokingly refer to her and her daughter as Paris and Chantelle after the platinum blonde socialite and the equally platinum former Celebrity Big Brother contestant.

Some might see this as empowering for a woman who is well into middle age. Others might take the view that it is contrary to the laws of Mother Nature - not that Janet has much truck with her anyway.
‘Who wouldn’t want to look like my daughter?’

As she told the Mail this week: ‘It might sound barmy that I had cosmetic surgery to look like my daughter, but she’s gorgeous. Who wouldn’t want to look like her?

‘The way I see it is that she got her looks from me in the first place - mine have just faded with age.

‘Seeing how attractive Jane is made me want to get my looks back. Now instead of mum and daughter we look more like twins. I had good genes and good skin, but I needed a helping hand to make me feel better about myself.’

Certainly Janet wasn’t always such a head-turner. Just a few years ago, she was a size 14 redhead and felt, she says, dowdy and unattractive.

Not, she insists, that she was ever vain. ‘I didn’t have time for vanity in my 20s as I was too busy bringing up Jane and her brother, Pete,’ she says.

‘I didn’t pay much attention to myself.’

That changed as she entered her 30s and became increasingly disconsolate with her changing figure.

‘Like any woman who’s had children, gravity had started to take its toll on my breasts,’ she says.

Oh right. Almost forgot. The MOM is the one on the LEFT. Daughter on the right , who I first thought was the mom.


Posted by peiper   United States  on 04/16/2009 at 03:09 PM   
Filed Under: • Art-PhotographyFun-StuffScience-TechnologySex •  
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calendar   Sunday - March 29, 2009

Nazi codebreaker which shortened the Second World War by two years.

I know this isn’t a new story and it’s fair to say everyone by now knows about Bletchley Park.

However, here’s another view with some great photos.  More photos at the link too.

Shame Churchill had originals destroyed but this gives you some idea of computing before BMEWS.

The Wider View: Nazi codebreaker which shortened the Second World War by two years

By Mail On Sunday Reporter
Last updated at 11:36 PM on 28th March 2009

The rows of silver dials and tangle of scarlet wires look more like a telephone exchange.

But this is the inside of the Turing Bombe, the part-electronic, part-mechanical code-breaking machine and forerunner of the modern computer, which cracked 3,000 messages a day sent on Nazi Enigma machines during the Second World War.

There were 210 such bookcase-like Bombes that gave Britain advance warning of Hitler’s plans and shortened the conflict by two years

All were destroyed for security reasons on Churchill’s orders after the war. This is a replica, built by 60 volunteers, which was fired up last Tuesday.

Code-breakers including former Wrens Ruth Bourne and Jean Valentine, pictured above, returned for a reunion at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, where they worked in top secret in blacked-out, cupboard-sized spaces.

The original Bombes, invented by brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, were made using reinforced brown Tufnol plastic moulded from sheets a tenth of an inch thick, a cast-iron framework and 12 miles of intricate wire circuits.

The machine has taken 14 years to build from scratch into working order

At 61⁄2ft tall and running on no more power than a kettle, the Bombe could unravel 158 trillion possible combinations to unlock a seemingly random series of letters sent by the Nazis to the front lines, which were, in fact, highly complex codes, changing daily. Typewriter-like Enigma machines scrambled the letters using three or four rotor wheels.

This inside view of the Bombe would not usually be visible to the operator. The right-hand wall is a hinged door, the inside of which holds electronic circuits.

The left-hand wall is the mechanical half of the Bombe. The brightly coloured squares are resistors and the loops of red tangled wire are circuits.

Teams of highly skilled mathematicians, cryptologists, inventive thinkers and crossword enthusiasts would receive hundreds of Nazi codes and ‘guess’ the approximate real message or plain text.

This ‘crib’ would be given to the Wrens who would set it on the Bombe’s alphabet wheels.

By checking all the permutations, the crib would help locate the true message within the code. It
took the Bombe about 11 minutes to find a possible message. When it did, a bell would sound and the Wrens passed it on to the code-crackers, using a red scrambler phone. Churchill called them ‘the geese that laid the golden eggs but never cackled’.

The machine was named after an earlier Polish code-breaking machine called a Bomba. Each Bombe had its own title, inscribed on wooden plaques. .

This replica is called Phoenix


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/29/2009 at 02:02 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesScience-TechnologyUKWar-Stories •  
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calendar   Sunday - March 22, 2009

Will They Never Learn?

Chinese Drywall Ruins House Wiring All Across The South?

Officials are looking into claims that Chinese-made drywall installed in some Florida homes is emitting smelly, corrosive gases and ruining household systems such as air conditioners, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The Florida Health Department, which is investigating whether the drywall poses any health risks, said it has received more than 140 homeowner complaints. And class-action lawsuits allege defective drywall has caused problems in at least three states—Florida, Louisiana and Alabama—while some attorneys involved claim such drywall may have been used in tens of thousands of U.S. homes.

Homeowners’ lawsuits contend the drywall has caused them to suffer health problems such as headaches and sore throats and face huge repair expenses.

The drywall is alleged to have high levels of sulfur and, according to homeowners’ complaints, the sulfur-based gases smell of rotten eggs and corrode piping and wiring, causing electronics and appliances to fail.

“It’s economically devastating, and it’s emotionally devastating,” said Florida attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, who filed one of the lawsuits. It would cost a third of an affected home’s value to fix the dwelling, Gonzalez said.

“The interior has to be gutted, the homeowners have to continue paying mortgages, and they have to pay for a [temporary] place to live,” Gonzalez said.

The CPSC has been investigating claims in Florida for more than a month, according to commission spokesman Joe Martyak. He would not confirm whether CPSC is checking other states or reveal how many cases it is probing.

The Florida complaints generally involve homes built or renovated in 2005 and 2006, when a building boom and post-hurricane reconstruction caused a U.S. drywall shortage that spurred builders to turn to imports, Martyak said.

The allegations come after a number of recent safety problems with other Chinese exports, ranging from toys to pet food.

“The breadth of this thing is a lot bigger than people think,” said Chaikin of the Parker Waichman Alonso law firm in Bonita Springs. Chaikin said the problem is perhaps more easily recognizable in Florida because humidity exacerbates it.

Marvelous. Another poorly made product imported from communist China that turns out to be dangerous. Gosh, is it just me, or is everything made in China a crapshoot? Save a dollar, lose your health. Or your house. Wake up cheapskates! It’s simply not worth it. Don’t buy things made in China.

What the heck is drywall anyway, and why are we importing it?

Drywall is two layers of cardboard with a layer of gypsum between them. It is a wonderfully “green” product. The cardboard is made from recycled newspaper. The gypsum can either be mined, collected as a by-product of other chemical manufacturing processes, or even scraped from the air scrubbers in the smokestacks of coal fired power plants.

Where does it come from naturally? Huge amounts in the US and Canada. Lots of it in Europe. Some in Pakistan and Iran and Indonesia. None in China.

Ok, so what is gypsum? Gypsum is the same stuff as classroom chalk. It’s the same stuff as alabaster. Gypsum is very closely related to the burnt lime used in concrete. Heck, gypsum is used in concrete. Specifically,

Gypsum is the more common name for a mineral compound called calcium sulphate dihydroxide, or sulphate of lime. Gypsum is generally found underground near deposits of limestone or other minerals formed by evaporation. One of the most common forms of raw gypsum is a pure white crystal called alabaster.
Because the calcium and sulphur molecules in gypsum are chemically bound to water, gypsum is routinely heated in order to remove 50% to 75% of its original moisture. The resulting powder is considered burnt gypsum, although its white or translucent color does not change. Burnt gypsum is valued for its ability to solidify almost immediately after introduction to water.
Gypsum is naturally resistant to fire and heat, which helps it form a barrier between combustible wooden frames and the room itself.

The primary component of drywall is the mineral gypsum. It is a light-density rock found in plentiful deposits worldwide. Each molecule of gypsum (or dihydrous calcium sulfate) is composed of two molecules of water (H20) and one of calcium sulfate (CaSO4). By weight the compound is 21% water, but by volume it is nearly 50% water.

Before mixing the gypsum with water, it has to be calcined, which is a roasting process that drives off extra oxygen. It’s the same process that is used to turn limestone into lime (aka burnt lime) which is the basis for concrete.

So the stuff has sulpher in it, big deal. We mine the stuff, millions of tons of it a year. But you can create it in the lab too, by the very simple act of mixing sulphuric acid and chalk. This creates lots of carbonic acid fumes, but the solid stuff left over is gypsum. If you are a smart chemist, you condense that gas and mix it with more crushed lime, and that produces chalk. It’s easy to see that sulpher dioxide (SO2) could get into the mix, either because the raw gypsum used is poor quality, or the chemical reaction was poorly controlled, or the wrong kind of acid used.

So my guess is that the Chinese drywall was made with typical communist piss-poor quality control. IE, none at all. Any old shit thrown into a cardboard sandwich. And they probably got the cardboard from the shipping boxes that they used for nuclear waste. All kidding aside, it’s not worth the risk, even with such a basic product as drywall. Burnt rock paste between two slices of tree pulp. And they screwed that up too.

Buy American.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/22/2009 at 01:37 PM   
Filed Under: • Big BusinessCommiesScience-Technology •  
Comments (5) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

calendar   Saturday - March 14, 2009

The scratch-proof car: Scientists create coating that repairs itself in the sun in 30 minutes.

I saw this and thought hey. Wow. That does look neat.  What next? Absolutely dent free cars?  (wasn’t the metal on the 37 Cord almost that?)

So anyway, I scooted over here to post this interesting bit of news and fell over Drew’s post of that fabulous new Boberg Engineering XR9 pistol.

Now that really took my breath away.  I guess this is very tame by comparison but it is a step forward none the less.
I won’t hold my breath however as these things almost always take longer then expected.  But it’s something positive to look forward to.

If I ever make it home again, I sure do look forward to that XR9.  Even the name looks like a fast sports car.

The scratch-proof car: Scientists create coating that repairs itself in the sun in 30 minutes

By David Derbyshire

Revolutionary: Repairing scratches on car paint soon won’t be necessarily as a plastic is being invented that can heal itself when exposed to sunlight

Motorists may never have to worry about scratching their paintwork again.

Scientists claim to have invented a ‘self-healing’ coating that repairs scuffs or blemishes on paint when exposed to sunlight.

It apparently takes 15 to 30 minutes for scratches to melt away, and a car’s paintwork could be restored to the condition it was in when it left the showroom.

In fact, the self-healing material’s creators believe it could be used on any objects vulnerable to scratches – including compact discs, sunglasses, iPod screens, handbags, shoes and even furniture.

Although the material is still at the laboratory stage, it could be available on commercial products within five years, experts say.

Dr Marek Urban who developed the intelligent polymer at the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, said it could also be used in medical tools where scratches can harbour germs.

‘There are an immense number of opportunities for this,’ he said. ‘Basically anything externally exposed.’

Self-repairing materials have been the dream of engineers for centuries. Many have been inspired by human skin and tissue which meshes itself together if it is damaged.

Some materials include networks of tunnels or tiny nanoparticles that ‘bleed’ when broken, filling in gaps caused by scratches.

However, most of the existing products are complicated and expensive. The self-healing material, described today in the academic journal Science, is far cheaper and simpler.


The coating is a polyurethane – a material used in plastics, foams and films – containing chitosan, a chemical produced in the shells of crabs, lobsters and shrimps, and organic compounds called oxetanes arranged in rings. 

When the coating is scratched, the rings of oxetane are broken to expose chemically reactive sites.

Ultraviolet light splits open the chitosan molecules exposing another set of reactive sites. The oxetane and chitosan attract each other, bond and close the scratches.

The material could be used to make car paint, or transparent plastic coatings for screens, glasses or watch faces. The cost ‘is not really that great’, Dr Urban added.

The speed of the repair depends on the sunshine. In Mediterranean weather scratches vanish three or four times quicker than they would in typical British weather.

‘Dry or humid climate conditions will not affect the repair process,’ Dr Urban writes in the journal Science. However, the coating only works once.

A scratch in exactly the same area would not repair itself. The material also needs more testing before it can be used in paints and protective coatings, he added.


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/14/2009 at 01:32 PM   
Filed Under: • Science-Technology •  
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double porn

Gun Porn & Engineering Porn, together at last!!

Presenting the Boberg Engineering XR9 pistol, due to hit the market in another month or two


See Through pictures!


“We’re the same size!” “No, mine’s 40 percent longer.”

The Boberg XR-9 pistol is a short recoil operated, locked breech pistol. It uses rotary barrel locking with a single massive locking lug on the top of the barrel, which engages the slide when in battery. The trigger is of double action only (DAO) type, hammer-fired. The heart of the two-stage “pull - push” feed system is the claw-shaped loader, which is pivotally attached to the slide. When slide is in forward position, the claws are lowered under the barrel breech area, gripping the base of the topmost cartridge in the magazine. When slide is cycled (manually or under the recoil of the previous discharge), the claws pull the cartridge rearwards from the magazine until it is clear; at the end of recoil stroke, claws are lifted to place the cartridge to feed position. On the closing stroke of the slide, cartridge is pushed into the barrel chamber, and the feed claws are lowered to grip on the following round in the magazine. Obviously, such system requires specially designed magazines and is somewhat more complicated than standard “push forward” feed system encountered in most other firearms, including pistols. The benefit of this system is significantly increased barrel lenght, which is especially important for compact pistols with shortest possible barrels.

To quote the designer: “The chamber does not have to be sloppy since the cartridge doesn’t have to come from the bottom and “wiggle” into the chamber like on a traditional feed mechanism. Tighter chamber clearance yields about 4% more kinetic energy with 115 grain bullets, and 12% more energy with 147 grain bullets compared to other same-barrel-length guns with the standard sloppy chambers. More power channeled forward instead of backward...”

The mechanism is actual quite similar to the one on a Browning machine gun. Cartridges are held by very light spring pressure in a magazine. Instead of coming out forward like cartridges do in a regular magazine, these come out to the rear.

When the pistol is fired, the bullet travels down the barrel, and spins in one direction because of the rifling in the barrel. You can’t phool physics: this creates a torque in the opposite direction. That torque spins the barrel along its axis a little, perhaps slowed down by a helical spring, and that turning unlocks the barrel from the slide. The bullet is now out of the barrel, but inertia is still pushing the cartridge case back against the bolt face area of the slide. So unlocking the barrel lets the slide ... slide. It goes back over an ejector, spits out the empty case, and is brought to a stop by the compressed mainspring. As the slide begins it’s rearward travel, a little clothespin-like spring thingy pulls a new round from the magazine. At the end of the slide’s rearward stroke, this claw pivots up and raises the fresh cartridge into position. As the slide moves forward, the cartridge is fed straight into the chamber. No feed ramps needed. No slop in the end of the chamber like on most semi-automatics, to give the round a bit of spare room to “go around the corner”. Which means less pressure wasted on expanding the brass, and more of it spent pushing the bullet. Finally, at the end of the forward stroke the slide pushes a little cam upwards which rotates the barrel back, and the loaded round is now locked into battery, ready for the next pull of the trigger.

There is a most excellent 2 second animation, along with several videos of the gun firing, and lots of pictures and information at the Boberg website, Boberg Engineering.

Early reviews are quite positive. The pistol is accurate and reliable and oozes quality.

Ok, why all the fuss? What makes this thing so special, considering the mechanism concept is over 100 years old, and the rotating barrel idea is borrowed from Beretta and other modern designs? 

First reason: Almost all semi-automatic pistols put the barrel above and in front of the magazine. The XR9 puts the magazine under the barrel. That means you get either a longer barrel for a given length pistol, or a shorter pistol for a given length barrel. Either one will give you at least an inch more barrel than you can get in a regular pistol. And a longer barrel means higher velocity. More velocity means more power and less flash. Very short barreled guns, like the tiny ones you’d want for a pocket sized CCW “mouse” gun, lose huge amounts of velocity because their barrels are really short.

Second reason: a pistol that uses a locked breech design is much stronger than one that is designed to use a blow-back, unlocked breech. This lets you use more potent cartridges, without getting a face full of still burning gunpowder gas.

Third reason: I think it’s bloody cool looking!!

Boberg is planning on releasing two versions of their new pistol. The “regular” XR9, which offers full sized pistol performance in a small sized package, and the “micro” or “shorty” XR9S that offers mid sized performance in a very small package. How small? This small:

Ruger LCP .380 vs. Boberg XR9 9mm Shorty and Standard
Overall Length
Overall Height
Overall Thickness
Barrel Length
Ruger LCP5.16”3.6”0.82”12 oz2.75”.380 Auto6+1
XR9 Shorty5.0”4.2”0.95”14 oz3.31”9mm Luger7+1
XR9 Standard5.8”4.2”0.95”19.5 oz4.20”9mm Luger7+1

The Ruger LCP has very tiny low sights. The XR9 has typical “low” sights; my guess is another .1” - .2” could be shaved off the height by using lower sights. So the Shorty winds up being shorter than the loose-it-in-your-pocket small LCP, but about half an inch taller, and a few ounces heavier. The Standard is just over half an inch longer. But either model gives you one extra shot, has a longer barrel, and uses the 9mm cartridge, which is nearly twice as potent as the .380. Especially when you have enough barrel to stop losing velocity. Oh, and the grip is steeply angled, very much like the P-08 Luger, which gives it nearly perfect ergonomics and a very natural hand position. That steep grip puts a good chunk of the upper back over your hand, so the balance should be very neutral.

Downsides? It isn’t on the market yet, and it is going to cost what most quality pistols cost - $800 - $1000. The company is in start-up, so expect the first couple of years to be, if not a bit rocky, then at least a little gravel strewn, just like any other start up.

More upsides? Mr. Boberg wasn’t overly specific in his patent, so his action could be made for a rifle as well. How about this idea applied to a bullpup action? Talk about minimum length guns! Or he could turn out a full size pistol, perhaps with a double stack magazine, that has a 7” barrel instead of the typical 5” one. Which would add another 100fps or so to the velocity of any of the more potent pistol cartridges, like the 10mm Magnum.

This is the first actually new pistol design I’ve seen in ages. Looking at it, realizing how simple it actually is, gives me such a Duh Moment that I wonder why JMB didn’t figure this one out 100 years ago.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/14/2009 at 01:12 AM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun ControlScience-Technology •  
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calendar   Thursday - February 12, 2009


Innocent accident, overt action, test of a new weapons system? Seems innocent, but don’t ignore the strategic value here.

U.S., Russian satellites collide in space

Two satellites, one Russian and one American, have collided some 800 kilometers (500 miles) above Siberia, the Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, said Thursday.

The collision produced two large debris clouds, which are not believed to pose a threat to the International Space Station as long as the clouds continue moving in a lower orbit, Roscosmos said.

There is a chance the debris could hit other satellites at the same altitude, however, the space agency said.

“We have not received a warning of the possible danger to the ISS. The fragments may descend to the ISS orbit in several years, although I do not rule out that some fragments may go down within several days,” Mikhail Martirosov, from the Russian mission control center, told the Russian news agency Interfax Thursday.

An earlier version of this story said they were both communication satellites. Now, the funny thing is, a satellite’s orbit is mapped out in advance. Ages before it’s even launched. And there is an international protocol in place that keeps them from “tailgating” each other. So accidents don’t just happen. Somebody screwed up, or somebody is playing reindeer games in space. Question is, who?

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Two big communications satellites collided in the first-ever crash of two intact spacecraft in orbit, shooting out a pair of massive debris clouds and posing a slight risk to the international space station. NASA said it will take weeks to determine the full magnitude of the crash, which occurred nearly 500 miles over Siberia on Tuesday.

“We knew this was going to happen eventually,” said Mark Matney, an orbital debris scientist at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA believes any risk to the space station and its three astronauts is low. It orbits about 270 miles below the collision course. There also should be no danger to the space shuttle set to launch with seven astronauts on Feb. 22, officials said, but that will be re-evaluated in the coming days.

The collision involved an Iridium commercial satellite, which was launched in 1997, and a Russian satellite launched in 1993 and believed to be nonfunctioning. The Russian satellite was out of control, Matney said. The Iridium craft weighed 1,235 pounds, and the Russian craft nearly a ton.

Hmmm. Guess the Iridium folks weren’t watching their radars carefully enough. Maybe.

Iridium satellites are unusual because their orbit is so low and they move so fast. Most communications satellites are in much higher orbits and don’t move relative to each other, which means collisions are rare.

Smart people, don’t think too hard on that last one. I’m pretty sure the more distant satellites need to move even faster than the closer ones.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/12/2009 at 09:14 PM   
Filed Under: • Science-TechnologySpace •  
Comments (3) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

calendar   Wednesday - January 28, 2009

Privacy? You Doan Nee No Steenkin Privacy

Part 1, sort of

Obama is Watching

And think of that as the good news. The bad? So is everyone else. Follow Mr. Christian on Twitter. Tune in to Wi-Fi anywhere. Broadcast yourself. Make intimate connections with total strangers! And the whole world, thugs included, will know who you are, where you live. what you look like, and whether you’ve got any nice stuff ... and they’ll also know when you’re out of town. Oh, you have privacy concerns? Not to worry. Just lie. Create a false you. Photograph someone else’s attack dog, someone else’s apartment. But don’t not be part of the total social net. That would be, like, like being a free thinker who doesn’t fit in. No. Go along, get along, sign up, tune in, fit in.

Resistance is futile. Take the pledge; remember: ”Together we can. Together we ARE. And together we will be the Change that we seek.Fucking zombies. Get wired. Like a puppet on a string. Then dance for your new master, whom you have just pledged to serve. It’s cool to be a slave.

UPDATE: Folks, watch the video at the above zombies link please.

Part 2, kinda

Welcome to the future. And it sucks. No thanks.

Mathew Honan explores the perks and the perils of being part of the open source generation.

The location-aware future—good, bad, and sleazy—is here. Thanks to the iPhone 3G and, to a lesser extent, Google’s Android phone, millions of people are now walking around with a gizmo in their pocket that not only knows where they are but also plugs into the Internet to share that info, merge it with online databases, and find out what—and who—is in the immediate vicinity. That old saw about how someday you’ll walk past a Starbucks and your phone will receive a digital coupon for half off on a Frappuccino? Yeah, that can happen now.

Simply put, location changes everything. This one input—our coordinates—has the potential to change all the outputs. Where we shop, who we talk to, what we read, what we search for, where we go—they all change once we merge location and the Web.

I wanted to know more about this new frontier, so I became a geo-guinea pig. My plan: Load every cool and interesting location-aware program I could find onto my iPhone and use them as often as possible. For a few weeks, whenever I arrived at a new place, I would announce it through multiple social geoapps. When going for a run, bike ride, or drive, I would record my trajectory and publish it online. I would let digital applications help me decide where to work, play, and eat. And I would seek out new people based on nothing but their proximity to me at any given moment. I would be totally open, exposing my location to the world just to see where it took me. I even added an Eye-Fi Wi-Fi card to my PowerShot digital camera so that all my photos could be geotagged and uploaded to the Web. I would become the most location-aware person on the Internets!

To test whether I was being paranoid, I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone. Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map. At home I searched the Flickr map, and score—a shot from today. I clicked through to the user’s photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior—a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives.

A couple years ago this was scary. Now it’s so far beyond being old hat that few people even realize it’s wrong. It’s a convenience feature, dammit, and they demand this level of connection and service!! (Ok, this doesn’t actually exist yet. But it’s nothing compared to the technological power shown above. All it would take is a flip of a switch, one that already exists, to make public that information that you can only pray is still “private”. And Bush was Hitler because of the wiretap thing. Riiiight.)


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/28/2009 at 05:01 AM   
Filed Under: • Obama, The OneScary StuffScience-Technology •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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