Geek stuff

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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A worldwide effort by the Event Horizon Telescope has produced the first false-colour image of a black hole.

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Watching the Jeremy Brett adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Golden Pince Nez” left me wondering about some of the specific changes made between the story and the ITV Granada TV series, specifically the role of Holmes’ brother Mycroft. An idle Google search about the substitution of snuff for tobacco ash in the story […]

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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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One big surprise from Michael Leinbach and Jonathan Ward’s Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew is the claim that people at NASA hadn’t anticipated the catastrophic loss of a Shuttle during reentry. That despite of the delicacy of the thermal protective tiles and the fatal consequences expected […]

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Today I received Bathsheba‘s Tetrabox: a 3d-printed steel sculpture which is also a puzzle held together with magnets. At a minimum, it has what I think of as ‘tips forward‘ and ‘tips around‘ solutions. For the first, all three of the asymmetrical pieces have their extended tips pointing toward the one symmetrical piece, allowing the […]

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