Geek stuff

Finally somebody in authority sat down and thought the problem through. The specifications of JP-4 [jet fuel] were as sloppy as they were to insure a large supply of the stuff under all circumstances. But Jupiter and Thor [ballistic missiles] were designed and intended to carry nuclear warheads, and it dawned upon the thinker that […]

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[Calculating rocket fuel performance mathematically] gets worse exponentially as the number of different elements and the number of possible species [of reaction products] increases. With a system containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, you may have to consider fifteen species or more. And if you toss in boron, say, or aluminum, and perhaps a little […]

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A tweet of mine, written in a moment of irritability aggravated by the sound of jets roaring overhead, has gotten some attention by virtue of being incorporated into some news articles about social media commentary on the Toronto Air Show. In addition to my standard gripes about the wastefulness of jet engine use, the undesirability […]

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Why is trustworthy computer security impossible for ordinary users? In part because the system has multiple levels at which failure can occur, from hardware to operating systems and software. Spectre and Meltdown show that no matter how careful you are about the operating sytem and software you run you can still be attacked using the […]

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There are some good discussions online about the relative merits of different types of software for writing long scholarly documents like a PhD thesis. For instance, Amrys O. Williams’ “Why you should LaTeX your dissertation; or, why you don’t have to write your dissertation in Word“. I’ve seen the plusses and minuses of using LaTeX […]

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The suspension of disbelief has a particular peculiar character within the science fiction genre. While there is certainly sci-fi that rejects all standards of realism rooted in actual science, and which might thus be better seen as a kind of fantasy with technology, most sci-fi seeks to imagine things that could be possible in the […]

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The Japanese robotic spacecraft Hayabusa2 has arrived at the asteroid Ryugu. Among other things, it’s meant to “use small explosives to blast a crater on the surface and collect the resulting debris”.

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has some great free software available that lets you see many solar system bodies (from the sun to Jupiter’s absurd abundance of tiny moons) as well as a wide variety of space missions. Some interesting objects: Miranda, Phobos, Deimos, Io, Europa

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My replacement desktop computer arrived six days early. After a lot of thought about “pro” options (the crazy expensive iMac Pro, the dated but in some ways capable Mac Pro, the mysterious new Mac Pro to come) and hackintoshes, I replaced my 2007 era 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac along with an Nvidia […]

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