Bombs and rockets

Among the immortal Simpsons lines (and the triumph of engineers over fighter jocks): “I might remind you both I did design that racer. The driver is essentially ballast.”

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It’s possible to perform orbital maneuvers which would normally require fuel using instead the momentum of sunlight. Via the incomparable Scott Manley: Lightsail 2 Sails On Sunlight At Last

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I have long been skeptical about the prospects for off-world human colonies. Given that the International Space Station is the most expensive thing we have ever built and it is entirely reliant on supplies from Earth, it would be a gigantic leap just to make a self-sustaining closed life support system. Beyond that are many […]

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Over the years I have written a variety of academic papers on various aspects of nuclear weapons and nuclear power: 1) Written for an undergrad international relations course at UBC and subsequently published in a journal and given an award: “The Space Race as ‘Primitive’ Warfare.” UBC Journal of International Affairs. 2005. p. 19-28. 2) […]

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This week’s Economist is reporting about the growing danger of armed conflict between the United States and Iran: The brewing conflict between America and Iran As America and Iran act tough, the risk of conflict is growing President Donald Trump’s fixation with undoing “Barack Obama’s signature diplomatic achievement” in the form of the Joint Comprehensive […]

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The first Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was lost on the way to space because of fraudulent metal provided by a supplier. The OCO was rebuilt at OCO-2, which has since collected data on the spatial distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth. OCO-3 will be attached to the International Space Station, which will further fill in […]

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The Economist created a graphic illustrating how Israel must choose between three objectives, without being able to achieve all three at once and with objectionable features arising from choosing one pair over the other options: They need to make some choice between giving up occupied land, ceasing to have a Jewish electoral majority, and being […]

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Of course, the Columbia and Challenger accidents have reminded us we need to be ever vigilant. Despite more than two years of careful work to prevent foam shedding from the shuttle’s main tank, my STS-114 mission lost a large piece of foam on ascent, in a circumstance very similar to what happened to Columbia on […]

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After [redacted by the CIA] left, Boris had to keep introducing harsher and harsher methods, because Abu Zubaydah and other terrorists were trained to resist them. In a democracy such as ours, there is a glass ceiling on harsh techniques that the interrogator cannot breach, so a detainee can eventually call the interrogator’s bluff. And […]

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The [redacted by the CIA] picture [of Khallad, alias of Walid bin Attash] had been in the CIA’s possession when Steve Bongardt and the Cole team had been shown the [redacted] three pictures on June 11, 2011. If it has been shown to the Cole team, Steve and the other agents would have identified the […]

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