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Comment A different way to use a comet (Score 1) 93

I think that NASA's idea is interesting...very challeging, as other have noted, but worth it if it could be done.

I have been toying with the idea for an SF story using comets. Spaceships would wait for a comet to come by, then embed themselves into the tail of the comet, and use some kind of ramjet propulsion to accelerate out of the inner solar system. Obviously comet tails are not dense at all (a less dense vacuum than what can be made on earth) but the ion tail should be manipulatable.

Anyway, in the story, people in their spaceships end up flying out in more-or-less random directions, and hoping to find something interesting in the process.

Comment Re:Poor example (Score 1) 437

They may be fine in Arizona, but they're all kinds of fun to navigate when the road is icy, making every time you turn an invitation to start sliding. Did anyone not notice that roundabouts are a continuous turn? (Which is why I saw lots of accidents at the roundabouts I had to regularly use during an Idaho winter.)

Comment Re:really... (Score 1) 617

One theory is that Smith was writing a fantasy novel (tho from what else I've read, his own grasp on reality was a trifle suspect... so as to whether he believed it??) Thus:

Structurally, the Book of Mormon is in line with other fantasy manuscripts of its era: publishers didn't think readers would buy that a crazy adventure was happening to the narrator in realtime, but a secondary narrator relaying the adventure via a framing story was acceptable. Given that structure, the angel Moroni showing Smith the tablets is the framing story; the rest is the fantasy.

As an example we know for sure was meant to be fantasy, E.R. Eddings' The Worm Ouroboros also uses this framing story structure (tho the author drops it after a few chapters and tells the story directly, tho I got the feeling he'd gotten caught up in the story and flat forgot to use it).

Comment Everything in your life will be a governance gizmo (Score 4, Insightful) 149

I've been trying to keep my job skills fresh so I can keep up with the "next big thing". But I'll be damned if I can figure out what the hell IoT really is and why it's taking off. Yes, I know it's connecting things to the internet. But to what end?

It will allow Apple, Microsoft, Google, the US Government, and others to turn every device in your home into a governance/surveillance device. It won't just be your TV watching you a la 1984, it will be your thermostat, your keyboard, your couch, your bedside lamp, hell, not just your bed but your baby's crib and the baby's rattle.

That is why they are so keen on the "Internet of Things." What? You thought it was to benefit you? Really? Then I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

Comment Re:Jets are much slower than A-10 bullets (Score 1) 491

Actually, even fighters from 1950's can fly at mach 2, BUT:

Actually, the fastest jet aircraft ever built were (at least designed) in the 1950s - all current planes (that we know about for sure) are sluggards by comparison: YF-12A/SR-71, B-70 Valkyrie, B-58 Hustler, the entire Century series of fighters, especially the F-104 Starfighter. That's not even counting the amazing stuff that was on the drawing board but never produced due to the advent of high-altitude missiles - the B-70 is arguably right on that cusp, but I'm talking about Mach 3+ planes like the XF-108 Rapier (intended to intercept a Soviet analog of the B-70), which did influence the later A-5 Vigilante.)

Even as a *bomber* the B-58 was a fair fraction as fast as the SR-71 - my Dad and a buddy were in marginally supersonic jet fighters when they snuck up on one near FortWorth (home of the Convair plant that built the B-58) and pulled up alongside, giving him a "bang-bang, you're dead" hand signal. The B-58 pilot turned first to one of them, then the other, waving "bye-bye", and all three planes went to full throttle. Dad said the fireballs from the B-58's four afterburning engines collapsed into one and then disappeared from sight nearly as fast as the image collapsed to a dot on an old CRT television, and he and his wingman were left looking at each other across the empty space where the aptly named Hustler had been only moments before.

BTW, some of these planes suffered from the runaway systems complexity and cost that will doom the F-35, but at least they were good at their one job, unlike the F-35 which excels at nothing...

Comment Re:hmmmm (Score 1) 491

Engaging from a set distance isn't a rigged test. It's very realistic. It's the same as CAS aircraft loitering in the vicinity of fighting, not knowing where they'll be called to, then vectoring, approaching, engaging, and disengaging. The F-35 has an advantage in approach speed, and when you're under fire from the enemy, fast engagement becomes extremely important not only for your safety but for the safety of the CAS aircraft in that the enemy will have less time to bring in reinforcements.

I'm a huge fan of the A-10 and expect it will do better in a number of tests in a fair competition, including the raw number of targets that can be engaged primarily due to the gun's ammo capacity. I'm not a terribly big fan of the F-35, believing that it's trying to combine too many functions into one airplane. But for a CAS demonstration, I expect that the F-35 will be fitted with external stores (appropriate in an area where air supremacy and some level of major SAM suppression have been achieved). External stores capacity for the two planes is similar weight-wise (16,000 pounds on 11 hardpoints for the A-10 vs. 15,000 pounds on 6 hardpoints for the F-35), but a maximum load for either plane is unrealistic as it adds drag, reduces range and loiter time, impacts agility, and increases stress on the aircraft. A-10s in Afghanistan would rarely go out with more than a single weapon or pod per pylon, and often with four or more stations empty. The F-35, of course, also has the internal stores that can handle up to four Small Diameter Bombs each.

Low-altitude survival time probably goes to the A-10, but accuracy could be a toss up between the slower and more stable A-10 and the faster but perhaps quicker to lock and launch F-35. This may be a closer competition than many believe.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)

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