Wednesday What We’re Reading (Sep. 11, 2019)

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.

Defense

Space

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.

Global Politics

  • 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.

Grab Bag


  1. This is sarcasm, although granted, I don’t recall offhand what kind of parachute schemes the US has used. Weigh in in the comments. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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? 

2 thoughts on “Wednesday What We’re Reading (Sep. 11, 2019)

  1. Kilo Sierra

    Vikings:
    Aeroshell > 16m chute(s) (@ M1.1) > terminal retro-rockets (N2H4)

    MPL:
    Aeroshell > 12.5m chute (@ M1.57) > terminal retro (solid rocket) > airbag bouncy ball

    MERs:
    Aeroshell > 14m chute (@ M1.77) > terminal retro (solid rocket) > airbag bouncy ball

    MSL:
    Aeroshell > 19.7m chute (@ M2) > terminal retro > sky-crane landing retro

    Reply
  2. daib

    Brimstone is very nifty for an ambush vehicle, so I guess this new Polish project is a fine heir to the design philosophy behind late model StuGs and the Hetzer . However, I thought we all agreed that the true heir to the M-18 was the AH-64.

    Reply

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