Sunday Things - experimental aeronautical edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday December 16 2012

A Sunday Things with a cohesive theme! That's not space! But lots of weird-looking planes instead, courtesy of Wikipedia's list of experimental aircraft. Here are a few picks:

For something nominally designed without aesthetics in mind, still beautiful.
Fairey Delta 2 - the first aircraft to exceed a thousand miles per hour, this graceful beast certainly looks the part.
The Soviets were experts in funny-looking machinery.
Bartini Beriev VVA-14 - of course we need a version of an ekranoplan here. Take its wings off, leave it to decay, then sprinkle it with snow? Perfect. Note to self: the Russian Central Air Force Museum looks well worth a visit. See also: the Lun-class ekranoplan mouldering somewhere else in the former USSR.
MOSTLY PROPELLOR. MOSTLY.
Bell X-22 - the timeline of experimental aeronautics is littered with attempts at vertical take-off. The tiltrotor is one route which has never quite taken off (ahem) - although the V-22 Osprey seems to have finally escaped its long and troubled development...
Fastest plane imaginable! Actually, a bit slow.
Douglas X-3 Stiletto - like some incredible star-fighter piloted by a testosterone-oozing science-fiction hero, this fearsome beast proved disappointingly underpowered. But, it provided design experience for the actual Starfighter...
HELP I THINK I'M GOING BACKWARDS
Grumman X-29 - even the 1980s weren't immune to assumption-busting redesigns. Swept wings, you say? Let's see how they work the other way round! Of course, the Russians eventually built one too...
The Citroën of the aerial world?
Leduc 0.21 - a gloriously French series of experimental ramjet-powered fighters, unfortunately incapable of supersonic flight despite their gorgeous looks. More imagery here.

Bonus Yet More Funny Planes corner:

Sunday Things - interminable edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday December 9 2012

This 'ere blog-thing has been going for over six months now. How long can it continue? Let us find out.

I'm amazed it's never leaked.
The Underwater Ballroom - hidden somewhere at the bottom of a lake lies a Victorian folly built by an eccentric and his six hundred men. Actually, it's a billiards room, but never mind. Of course, urban explorers have infiltrated this location in search of photographic goodness... Another expedition's photos here.

SPAAAACE, etc.

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The Earth spins at night - imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite mosaiced and composited into this virtual view of our planet at night, with its mysterious lights clustered around particular locations... via
Rendezvous with Rama via a 1970s dinner party?
Space Colony Art from the 1970s - this is what the future was supposed to look like, with a bucolic '70s-suburbia spread across the interiors of vast, impossibly expensive space habitats. via b3ta
Taken any time in the last few hundred years.
Sebastião Salgado in Siberia - gorgeous, other-worldly photos of the nomadic Nenets of northern Siberia. Beyond the mention of GPS in one of the captions, effectively impossible to date.

Bonus Gratuitous Self-Promotion corner:

MY INSATIABLE EGOTISM KNOWS NO BOUNDS
I have no idea what's going on here - some kind of interview or something? Whatever happened, there's a second part here. Hello RPSers!

Sunday Things - another edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday December 2 2012

Big-endian FTW
Motorola MC68000 processor die, imaged by the 6502-simulating-from-base-principles Visual 6502 project. They've also got an RCA 1802 CPU, as used in various spacecraft.

A cosmic coincidence that the Moon has the same angular diameter as the Sun

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Total solar eclipse on 14th November - seen from 37km above the Earth. Romanian-Australian project, launching a camera-carrying balloon into the vast shadow cast by the Moon. via
The Life Aquatic, without Steve Zissou
NOAA Aquarius Reef Base - underwater habitat used by NASA in a glorious series of 1960s-style human retro-experiments. Sadly, the thing's probably just lost its NOAA funding.

Lord Lucan riding Shergar, up there somewhere

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Cool Things to Find - excellent parody of a you-must-have-seen-it safety video, this time with - wait, what? In other news, Curiosity's one-for-the-history-books statement was, erm, referring to the entire mission. Any Martians will have to wait a little while.
IT'S LEAKING, AAARGH
Ladybower reservoir overflow - quite a few years ago, I was on a rail-replacement bus meandering its way from Manchester across a rainy Peak District. I basically had no idea where we were, when the bus went straight past a rather large lake - with a rather large hole in it. It took me a while to find out what the hell I'd seen.

Bonus Hard Science Fiction for Free corner:

  • Blindsight - deliciously hard science, describing the discovery of a less-than-inscrutable alien presence. Whole book online, Creative Commons licence! Mr. Peter Watts has other books online, a donation jar, and the scars from the outlandishly sci-fi-style necrotising fasciitis (WARNING: GORY).
  • Short stories from Greg Egan - razor-sharp fictional physics from Australia-land. The interstellar, no-faster-than-light human civilisation in the you'll have-to-pay-for-it Schild's Ladder was fantastic. And all too plausible.

BREAKING NEWS - ROCKS DISCOVERED ON MARS

posted in Space by Cargo Cult on Sunday November 25 2012

I love the raw images service provided by the Mars Science Laboratory teams. Inexplicable lumps of an alien world appearing like jigsaw pieces, just asking to be reassembled into something more understandable.

So, more images got posted, this time from the 100mm narrow-angle MastCam. Strange glimpses of twisted rocks, distant dust-obscured mountains, the tea-coloured sky...

Cue the Hugin.

I should have become a geologist.
MSL Curiosity Sol 107 panorama of Glenelg (~7MB, 7k×3k JPEG) - the mission's geologists are effectively being set loose in a vast toyshop. For science! Computer-destroyingly-large version here. And to think people complained about the 2 megapixel cameras?

The weirdly squishy-looking rocks to the centre-right, the angular broken blocks, the distant hills, the layered, eroded outcrop to the centre-left... Rocks!

It's kind of pointless turning this into an interactive panorama, what with the field of view being ~60×30 degrees...

Edit 2012-11-27: now updated and extended with images from Sol 109, here's an increasingly gigantic, unofficial panorama:

That's a reasonable about of space-data.
MSL Curiosity Sol 107, 109 panorama of Glenelg (~10MB, 10k×4k JPEG) - even more science. Blinking heck. Internet-destroyingly-large version here.

There's thumbnails for yet more images arriving. Too much data...

Sunday Things - Sunday edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday November 25 2012

More links for your perusal. Please note: additional additions greatly appreciated! Post 'em in the comments. Or send an email. But enough of that, back to the Sunday Things:

MY HOUSE HASN'T BEEN BUILT YET FROM HERE.
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection - all kinds of weird and wonderful old maps to peer at and download. See also: the Big Map Blog for more cartographic intrigue.
They stole my neighbours!
'Nail houses' in China - occupants who refuse to sell up and move out, temporarily blocking the relentless tide of demolition and construction.

Space is big. Almost as big as the International Space Station.

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Tour of the International Space Station - note the emergency cleanup facilities in the space-bog, and the utterly cramped Soyuz space-capsule.
I likes me a derelict island, I do.
Hashima Island, Japan - that motherlode of urban exploration has apparently appeared in a film or something. As someone who likes the occasional abandoned island, a must-see! (The island, and possibly the film too...) via karen
NASA splashdowns were in the balmy Pacific. Russians? Tougher.
ISS Expedition 33 landing - in which Ms. Williams lands the aforementioned Soyuz capsule back on Earth. See also: Soyuz re-entry.

Bonus Robots and Computers corner: