Tag Archives: Apollo

Winning Science December 24, 2013

Recently DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) held a robot Olympics in sunny Miami.  At stake is not only pride, but also one million dollars in additional research funding for any team that makes it through this first round.  The winning team after the second round will earn another two million. The robots are competing in several events which mimic tasks that humans might have to do in emergency situations, such as climbing ladders or turning valves. During the accident at Fukushima several valves could have been operated to significantly reduce the severity of the accident.  Unfortunately, due to radiation levels, human operators couldn’t reach them.  It’s hoped that these robots, or ones similar to them will be able to perform tasks where and when humans are unable to, preventing or at least reducing potential disasters.

lifesaving-robots-03-1213-lgnIt might be here to save my life, but this one looks way too much like Godzilla for my personal comfort.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the beautiful earthrise photo taken by the astronauts on Apollo 8. To commemorate this event, NASA’s Goddard Space Center has put together a computer generated recreation using photographs from the command module, the audio record of mission, as well as new data provided by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). It’s very interesting to listen to these events unfold (and more than a little humorous listen to Jim Lovell trying to find color film) and to hear the wonder in the voices of the astronauts.

I always like it when NASA takes the time to remember these cool little moments in the history of space exploration.

Yesterday Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the infamous AK-47 assault rifle died at the age of 94. No matter what your thoughts may be about guns and warfare, it is an undisputed fact that the AK-47 has been one of the most influential pieces of technology of the second half of the 20th century. The AK-47 has become synonymous with rebellions and insurgencies, cementing it’s place in the American collective memory during the Vietnam War. While the gun itself was more of a group effort and a conglomeration of several designs, Kalashnikov was likely chosen by Stalin because he best fit the image that the Soviets wanted to project. Regardless of how much of the design actually came from him, Kalashnikov became almost as much of a symbol as the rifle which carries his name.

Kalashnikov with his creation (kind of).

Kalashnikov with his creation (kind of).

Driving home the point of the rifle’s influence, the flags of Mozambique and Hezbollah and the coat of arms for Zimbabwe and East Timor all feature the AK-47

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Winning Science October 29, 2013

Ever wonder why it always seems that your awesome smartphone or computer starts to fall apart right about the same time that the manufacturer announces a brand new model? If the answer is yes, then you are not alone. The New York Times’ Technology section attempts to tackle this mystery. It turns out there is a very fine line between making a quality product that everyone loves and “planned obsolescence”. Stray a bit too far either way and your bottom line will be taking a considerable hit.

apple-logoIt’s reassuring to know that I’m not losing my mind when I notice these things.

The US Navy’s newest destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, has made its way into the water finally. The Zumwalt, named for former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., is significantly larger than its predecessor but requires a much smaller crew. While technologically advanced, the design program met with considerable problems and cost a lot more than the original budget, much in the way the earlier Seawolf Class Fast Attack Submarines did. Also like Seawolf,  the program was cut down to just three ships.

www.sinodefenceforum.comThe Zumwalt boasts advanced radar systems, a new 155mm gun, an electric propulsion system, significant computer automation, and a stealth hull.

Popular Science finally answers a question I’ve always had about the Apollo missions. What happened to Apollo 2 and 3? We all know about the tragic fire on Apollo 1 and the investigation that followed, but what happened to the next two missions? As it turns out, they never happened. Each of the Saturn rockets to be used was assigned to a mission, and so Apollo 2 and 3’s rockets were never used, due to the massive redesigns following the fire. With the introduction of the new and improved Saturn rockets, the mission number was maintained and the next unmanned Apollo flight became Apollo 4.

en.wikipedia.orgApollo 4, 5, and 6 were all unmanned test missions that were conducted prior to resuming manned missions with Apollo 7.

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