Category Archives: Technology

Science Sunday – To Mars In a Few Days

NASA 360 released a video about a week ago talking about new propulsion technology that could propel a robotic space probe to Mars in only a few days. To send a larger manned spacecraft to Mars, it would take about a month. That’s a lot better than the few months it already takes to send a space probe there.

How is it done? Lasers. This video introduces the concept, but you have to go elsewhere to watch the full talk.

Here’s the full talk in Seattle last year. There are several videos that cover different aspects of this topic.

What do you think of this topic? Would you like to see this technology happen? Let me know in the comments below.

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Does Anyone Still Use a…

256px-BreadboxI thought came to my mind, as many thoughts do. Does anyone still use a breadbox? And that just brought up more questions.

Does anyone still play the old Nintendo?

Does anyone still use the old cell phones without a big colour screen? And for that matter, does anyone still use a rotary phone?

Does anyone still use a black and white TV?

Does anyone still use Mapquest? Sure, it exists, and it’s been modernised, but really, does anyone even bother using it?

Does anyone still pronounce “gif” with a hard g, now that we know it’s supposed to be a soft g?

Does anyone still try to use the Mid-Atlantic accent? Don’t know what that is? It was used on TV in the early to mid twentieth century.

Does anyone still use MD players in Japan?

Does anyone still watch laserdiscs?

Does anyone still use Windows 95? Windows 3.1? Oh hell, does anyone admit to still using Windows Vista and liking it?

Can you personally answer these questions with a yes? Can you add more questions? I look forward to what you have to say in the comments.

Ever Seen a Rocket Stage Separation? Not Like This!

It’s common to see video of rocket stage separations. Rockets have video cameras installed in them so you can watch the separation. Engineers use the video footage to analyse how well the separation happened, and to discover any problems. It’s very useful in failed separations. But take a look at this video of a UP Aerospace launch for NASA to launch the Maraia Earth Return Capsule.

The following video focuses on the separation as viewed from outside the rocket. You can see slow motion, which is quite interesting.

I’ve never seen a stage separation from that angle before. What did you think?

Very Complex Fusion Reactor Finally Ready

The Wendelstein 7-X is a fusion reactor that took nineteen years to build. A supercomputer was used to design it, so that it would provide the best possible magnetic field to provide a sustainable reaction. Take a look at the video about this Stellarator reactor.

It’s different than the tokamak reactor, which is the standard design, and is said to avoid problems related to high current which is required to operate the tokamak reactor.

There are two major problems with fusion reactors at the moment. One is the inability to maintain a reaction for a significant period of time. The other is the inability to have a reaction that produces more energy than is required to start and maintain it. Efficiency is terrible. But it’s improving. If these two obstacles can be overcome, then nuclear fusion is the best choice for energy and electricity production.

Don’t let the word “nuclear” fool you into thinking this will produce a lot of dangerous radiation or radioactive byproducts. In fact, the fuel is hydrogen, and what results is helium and energy. There can be no runaway meltdown. Once the source of energy is removed, the reaction stops. The byproduct is an inert gas that will have no effect in the atmosphere.

Fusion is the future of energy, and it couldn’t come any sooner. We need it as soon as possible.

The Evolution of Technology

Today, we were at The Railway Museum in Saitama, a place I’d wanted to go to for years. Finally, I went there. It was pretty interesting, and I could have spent a lot more time there looking around. What’s interesting is seeing how the trains changed over time. Old trains are fascinating, but so are newer ones.

One area showed the development of the Shinkansen (bullet train) over time. You could see how the speed of the train got faster over the years, as well as how the design became more aerodynamic. The technology kept improving.

I’m always interested in how technology evolves. I’ll be looking at space probes when I go through them for Quick Facts, though this will mostly look at the discoveries and science done. However, I want to look at specific advances in technology over time for individual technologies. For example, I’d like to look at how computers have changed, or how bicycles have changed, or how telephones have changed. I want to write about the various stages and provide examples. I think it’ll be interesting. It also makes me wonder about the future.

What do you think? Are you interested in how technology changes?

#IStandWithAhmed – Criminalising Science and Technology Curiosity

A fourteen-year-old boy in Texas was suspended from school and arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school to show his teachers. He was obviously looking forward to showing them that he was good at things like this. So, he got arrested because his teachers thought it looked too much like a bomb and called the police?

Read the story here.

When I was his age, I had an electronics set with the ability to make a rudimentary clock or calculator. No digital display, though. I enjoyed this kind of thing. I even took an electronics course in university. I could make both digital and analogue circuits, and one of the main things we did was make calculators.

Well, this kid, Ahmed, could do much more than that at fourteen years old. He’s good. He likes science and technology, it appears. This is sorely lacking in the United States these days as the anti-science and anti-intellectual movement pushes forward. He should be rewarded for taking an interest in technology and science, and he seemed quite enthusiastic about it. Enthusiastic enough to want impress his teachers, hoping that they’d praise him. That’s probably all he wanted. Validation. Instead, he gets handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention centre.

The teachers admitted it didn’t look dangerous. The police admitted it looked nothing like a bomb. Yet they still arrested and suspended him for doing absolutely nothing wrong! If he is charged, this could have repercussions that go beyond just these punishments, but it could affect his future.

The good thing is that the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag has gone viral, and even President Barack Obama has invited him to the White House. How’s that for support? Obama thinks this is ridiculous. The police chief dropped the case, thankfully. And the school sent out a letter saying that there was no danger. However, Ahmed needs apologies from his teachers.  He deserves those apologies, and those teachers should be required to apologise for being complete assholes. And since when is a science project, though all on his own, a prohibited object. I had no idea kids weren’t allowed to bring any timepieces to school.

But still, I can’t help but worry about how society in the US, as well as Canada (though in Canada, it’s more the conservative government rather than the people), has become so anti-science. Stupidity and ignorance is on the rise.

So, #IStandWithAhmed.

Windows 10 – How Is It?

I’ve decided to delay upgrading to Windows 10. I have the option of doing it now, but I do have a year to install it. So, how is Windows 10 going now?

My wife has installed it, and I’ve heard nothing bad about it. It looks a lot more like Windows 7, which I absolutely loved. I’d still be using it if my old computer’s hard drive hadn’t failed. Windows 8.1 still gives me issues. I am looking forward to using Windows 10, but I’m not installing it yet.

Why? Well, I want to make sure that the major bugs are gone from the operating system. That’ll take some time. I’d like to install an OS that’s more stable and with fewer problems, so I’ll probably wait until around April to upgrade, once we’re in Canada.

Has anyone upgraded to Windows 10? How is it?