18 years on, the world is very different than it was on September 10, 2001. I don’t have a memorial to link; contemplate quietly in your own way.
- The modern tank destroyer – It’s a tracked chassis with a box of missiles on top. Less sexy than the old kind.
- USMC awards a contract for binocular NVGs
- A PDW for Parvusimperator’s next-gen grenadier? – He doesn’t like PDWs, but this one is just a tiny carbine (18 inches long collapsed, 5.7 pounds). You can even get it in trendy .300 Blackout (which he doesn’t like either).
- US Navy to hire consultants in an attempt to improve shipyard efficiency – I laughed too, at first, but apparently these same consultants helped improve some Hornet maintenance measurables, too.
- On the new, no-competition era in American nuclear procurement
- SoKor and Japan having a bit of a tiff again – Uncle Sam should step in and remind them to play nice.
- The A-10 escapes the chopping block once more
- Marine Corps might consider giving up big amphibious assault ships – In favor of smaller ones, granted, but I’m still iffy on the idea, if only because all the smaller ones pictured have terrible midships helipads.
- ESA satellite performs avoidance maneuver against SpaceX satellite – SpaceX was notified that there was a 1-in-400-ish chance of collision, which may be within their thresholds to act, but nobody saw the email until after the ESA made the maneuver. Time for a more automated system of notification and maneuvering?
- Quanta Magazine: are we all wrong about black holes? – Black holes share some properties with the thermodynamic concept of entropy. It’s a good analogy, and the esteemed Stephen Hawking suggested that they were the same thing. The physics community said, “Hey, a hint to a theory of quantum gravity!” and hasn’t found anything promising, so maybe entropy is only an analogy for black holes after all.
- Europe is having trouble testing its Mars lander parachute – I can’t imagine why. It’s a simple seven-stage system1.
- India is having trouble landing on the Moon – Which is not the same as having trouble reaching the Moon’s surface. Lithobraking is such a fun word2.
Other Science and Technology Stories
- Are insect populations actually declining? – A followup to a previously-shared story. In Puerto Rico, the answer appears to be ‘no, and if they were, it wouldn’t be because of temperature change, because there hasn’t actually been any’.
- Bad ideas in computing: PingFS – It stores your files in the contents of ping packets to a remote server of your choice. It doesn’t work on LANs because the latency is too low.
- Aluminum hydride, known primarily as a rocket fuel additive, makes a superb fuel cell fuel – At the top end, the aluminum hydride fuel cell system has better energy density than JP8 and a power unit, both by mass and volume. Being a solid powder, it also doesn’t take any compressive storage. Also, it contains 148 grams of hydrogen per liter of volume, twice the density of liquid hydrogen, to say nothing of compressed hydrogen gas. The only obstacle to widespread adoption is scale of production. A Bay Area company called Ardica Technologies is working on that, but they’re at kilogram-scale right now, and DoD is putting out feelers for more than 40,000 metric tons per year3.
- One mechanism by which the Chinese economy might collapse – “It is needed to build more steel mills so as to build more shipyards, ports, railways and bridges so that more ships can be built to carry more iron ore to more ports and thence along more rails and bridges to more steel mills so as to build more shipyards, ports, railways …”
- UK Parliament denies Boris Johnson’s second bid for an election – How it sounds to an outsider: “The Brexit fight is absolutely crucial to Britain’s survival as a democracy, which is why we mustn’t under any circumstances permit the people to weigh in.” I’m nearing the end of Massey’s Dreadnought, which covers a tumultuous time in British history during which political figures used snap election after snap election as referenda on the issues of the moment. Apparently that changed not merely this century, but also this decade.
- USDA employees bummed about having to move to Kansas City – I’m not unsympathetic to the plight of people having to relocate for a job, but goodness, what a bunch of entitled whiners these ones are. Heaven forbid that the mandarins who rule us should have to live among us. (Also, Kansas City is pretty cool.)
- A peek into The Knowledge, the exam which permits you to drive a London black cab – Bonus content: how are they faring (ha) in the age of Uber and Lyft?
- This is sarcasm, although granted, I don’t recall offhand what kind of parachute schemes the US has used. Weigh in in the comments. ↩
- And sometimes even used to mean a successful landing rather than a crash, to my surprise. The Pathfinder and Mars Exploration Rover (that is, Spirit and Opportunity) both used airbag-assisted lithobraking. ↩
- Things I’m always saying: if you’re pro-renewable-energy-economy, you need to find a way to turn electricity into high-density fuel for applications where batteries aren’t gonna cut it. Maybe this one? ↩