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WEEK 2 2007

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First Post, 17 March 2002
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Saturday 13 January 2007

Saturday - they are repairing the undersea cables near Taiwan in the far east, after the big earthquake of a few weeks back. It reminds me that in 2005 I read an interesting book about the first Transatlantic cable, A Thread Across the Ocean, and the current article indeed traces the technology back to the 1850's. The technology has evolved - now it is a glass fiber optic cable passing lasers, not copper for electrical telegraphy & sheathed in gutta percha, but they still use grapples to fish up broken cable.

They've rescued the solo sailor, Ken Barnes, that did a 360 capsize near Cape Horn. He's abandoned the attempt, and I think he scuttled his boat before leaving. Odd, it doesn't look too damaged in pictures - not low in the water or anything. Dismasted, and the engine was flooded, but that seems repairable. It at least one picture you can see that the foremast is still there, though hanging over the side. She was a Robert Perry steel hull design, according to Ken's web site, with waterproof compartments. Perhaps a somewhat shallow draft for those seas, but not an unreasonable choice - there isn't any such thing as a perfect boat (though we sailors' keep looking).

Book #3 was Constructional Steelwork Simply Explained, by John Faber. A page turner. Actually, not a bad review book for someone who hasn't thought about eccentric column loading of I beams in twenty years or so...

Book #2 is Enders Game, by Orson Scott Card. A good book. Rumor has it that there will be a movie version. We'll see. I'm not sure that Hollywood is capable of making a movie true to that book (though that possibility has never stopped them before).

Here is a picture from NASA of the extended Quiet Spike in flight. The size of the spike is hard to evaluate sometimes - look at the pilots' head and torso to get an estimate of the booms' real diameter and length. I've had a similar picture for weeks, but couldn't post it before NASA and Gulfstream released it to the public - the size and shape of the boom is Gulfstream proprietary stuff. Given the size and position of the spike - all the way forward - we've been extending the flight envelope very carefully. Hence my busy fall, in part, anyway.

WiFi evil twins. What will they think of next? Jeez.

Friday 12 January 2007

Friday -  no flight.  It didn't snow and the weather was excellent. But there were some other problems, so,  no flight.  Oh well, plenty of work. I read most of a (admittedly small) book on  structural steel frame analysis - an odd thing for an aerospace engineer to be doing, but  that's  why  I like the job. It changes a lot.

It is supposed to be cold, cold, cold tonight. I put a bag over the exposed sprinkler lines in front, at the manifold, just a bit of prevention to avoid splitting the pipes.

Heh. I was watching a bit of Jake 2.0 on SciFi, and there was a throwaway line: "And your safehouse in Berlin is: 221b Bakstrasse..."

Did NASA kill life on Mars? Yeah, the old Viking Lander question, popping up it's ugly head. All I can say is: don't change the rules of the game after it's started. As I understand it, the positives gotten by the lander would have qualified as "signs of life" under the original protocols. But the investigators got cold feet and changed their mind. OK, maybe it was a little more complicated, but the general idea is sound I think: go with your first idea. Einstein got burned by inserting the 'Cosmological Constant' into general relativity, for example. If Mars turns out to have life those Viking guys who were to scared to announce, well, they'll be hating life.

But I've always felt that life on Mars would show some visible signs - like plants or trees or moss - or something. In my personal memory the telescopically observed seasonal changes that we now know are just weather related were thought to possibly be growth related - branches falling from notional Martian tree's and the like. But it's just dirt and rock, and now, occasionally, flowing water.

I suppose I'm agnostic about the whole thing.


Thursday 11 January  2007

Thursday - The wind is howling and they're predicting a chance of snow showers. Pretty neat. Nonetheless, there is a flight scheduled for tomorrow morning. Yay.

I've been trying to see the new comet in the evening sky, without luck. It's been cloudy or I've worked too late all week. I think it's going to vanish soon, in conjunction with the sun. Then perhaps it'll reappear as a morning object.

I'm tired. I think I may have even nodded off in a couple of meetings today - or at least done the "head bob" thing.

How not to build a sailboat...

The Argentinian mountain is only 23,000 feet high, not 28,000. Whew, I was worried for a bit.

Wednesday 10 January 2007

Wednesday - well, I managed to finish make progress on a couple of items, so I feel good about the day.

Of course, it was a long day, and the house reeked of cat pee when I got home. I don't know where or what got soused, but I suppose I'll find out eventually.

I finally got an answer to why shock waves off an aircraft coalesce: the air is heated slightly after passing through the first shock, so the shock waves behind it move slightly faster in the warmer gas, and catch up with the leading shock. Hmm. I had thought that maybe the shock wave angles were slightly different - but today's answer sounds like a better solution, and since it's from someone actually involved in shock wave research it's probably correct.

Tuesday 9 January 2007

Tuesday - eh.

I took the Explorer over to Scott's for a new thermostat and serpentine belt. The idea was that I'd put the bicycle in the back of the Explorer, drive the SUV to Scott's, ride the bike home, go to work in the Probe, come home, ride over to Scott's and take the bike home in the back. But...just in case I was delayed at work...there being a flight...I put the bike in the back of the Probe so I could punt if something went wrong. Well, with one annoying thing and another I didn't get to Lancaster until about twenty minutes before Scott was to close. So I parked near Scott's, in the well lit library parking lot (his shop is in an old rough area), and took the bike out of the back and... the rear tire was flat. So I walked the mile or so to Scott's in twenty minutes, drove the Explorer home, and hitched a ride back to the library, and finally drove the Probe home.

So, I got some exercise.

Which may be a good thing. I was talking to a fellow engineer at work who just came back from Argentina where he'd been attempting to climb a 28,000 foot mountain - and he asked if I wanted to go next year. Hmmm. It's like Mt. Whitney, more of a hike than a climb, just another 13,000 feet higher. ( Just about double.) He went to 20,000, but his fellow hikers fell ill and he didn't want to attempt it alone. Wise man - it takes some good sense to tell yourself "no" after the time and expense of preparation for something like that. Those Oregon folk could take lessons.

 Monday 8 January 2007

Monday - back at work. Four test flights this week. Worked with the Pro/E tutorials. Went to a crew brief.

Sunday 7 January 2006

Sunday - hmmm. Not a lot to say. Went to lunch with some friends, went by their house in the evening and wrestled with the VKB virtual laser/bluetooth keyboard, for the PDA. Not entirely successful in setting it up, but it was a pretty cool gadget.

Swapped PC's - I'm now on the "new" PC, which is the 3.2Ghz I bought a couple of years ago. My old 2.4Ghz Northwood was getting a bit long in the tooth, so I wrestled with cables and dust bunnies, and am (sort of) up and running on the new PC. I still need to move a lot of files over. I did put a DVD burner on it, since it had nothing, and a (minimal, so as not to mess up existing s/w) set of burning s/w.

It's got the Canon Elura software on it, so I need to download some video from the Parade of Lights and my Xmas trip, and burn it to DVD. Maybe send a copy up to my Dad, and my brother. At any rate I can burn some of the old stuff, that is using vast amounts of space on my hard drive.

Picture of the Week
News trucks at DFRC for possible shuttle landing

Photo Notes: News trucks at DFRC for that possible shuttle landing in December.

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