Consider this scenario. You are a two dimensional creature. You are only able to experience your reality as a flat plane. Up and down have no meaning to you; these are concepts quite beyond your comprehension. You cannot imagine a 3 dimensional object any more than we, in our 3 dimensional world, can imagine what a 4 dimensional object would look like.
Now, in your 2 dimensional world, creature, I, as a 3 dimensional God-like character, am going to take a circle, anything round, and shove it down through your plane of existence. What would you experience? You would experience at the very first, a single point suddenly appearing as if out of nowhere. This single point splits into two points that diverge from each other at a steady rate. Yet if I stopped pushing the ring through your plane for a moment and let you examine one of those two points that you can see, you would find that if you shoved on one point, the other point moved exactly the same. From my God-like perspective, all you did was shove the ring a bit. You, on your flat plane, see spooky action at a distance, because you're shoving one point and the other one is moving, too.
Given enough time and experimentation with these points that keep appearing in your plane of experience as I keep shoving rings and perhaps even more complex objects through your plane, you might even be able to come up with some really complicated mathematics and physics that describe all this bizarre motion and behavior in your 2 dimensional world. To you, it all appears incredibly complex and horribly incomprehensible, even utter nonsense, but you can manage to describe it in such a way that is at least consistent with the weird behavior you keep seeing. To me, in my 3rd dimension, I'm just chuckling over all that hard work you're going to, because to me it's just a simple ring I'm shoving through your plane and watching you go batshit crazy trying to figure out what's going on.
The point is simply that quantum physics appears bizarre to us because we are limited to experiencing 3 spatial dimensions and are forced to constantly move in a single direction on an axis of time. All the weirdness of quantum physics really just means that there are almost certainly many more spatial dimensions and more complete freedom of motion through time than what we are limited to experiencing. What you're seeing a lot of times is just the weirdness of seeing something that almost certainly "completely" exists in several more higher dimensions intersecting limited reality you are able to witness.
That's about like crowing "called it" on reading a headline that says "Rossi's E-Cat Proven A Hoax".
It was a broad view of what humanity could accomplish once their petty differences of race were resolved and the race was looking forward through exploration. The series episodes nearly always involved a serious moral dilemma that the crew would solve through a combination of pragmatism and idealism. The action and comedy of the episodes were merely wrappers around the real message Roddenberry wanted to convey: that if we humans would only just stop fighting each other over trivial nonsense, we could make tremendous progress in exploring the universe around us, revel in the wonder of finding new things we couldn't possibly imagine at the moment, and discover that there are a lot bigger and more interesting things out there that worrying about whose skin happened to be a slightly different color.
The JJ Abrams movies especially simply ignored this basic concept and just went with the action aspect with a little extremely surface glossy history thrown in to make it look just a tiny little bit less like a completely 2 dimensional sci-fi flick of no substance worthy of consideration. As simple standalone sci-fi adventure movies with no tradition or history behind them, they were fairly decent - glossy, amusing, decent action, a reasonable stab at making a futuristic movie look "real" (except for that totally moronic throttle on Sulu's panel), fairly well-done and reasonably well-acted - in short, worth killing two hours of your time for - but they had virtually nothing to do with the original concept of Roddenberry's series beyond the names of the characters.
If my wife is driving and I am riding then what?
Who cares? You're missing the point of the whole punishment aspect of a law like this. If you're dumb enough to think you can safely text while driving, then I for one wouldn't have much sympathy for you bitching later on that you can't text while you're a passenger. You deserve what you got. This sort of law and punishment would be sort of like making it illegal to be stupid. I suppose the problem is that stupid people, by definition, are too stupid to understand that they're being punished for being stupid, but at least it would keep you from texting while you're driving and turning your stupidity into an active menace to society.
And here I thought Parsec was a unit of distance...
Hmmm. When you get right down to it, what really is the difference between distance and time when either is expressed as a function of the speed of light?
That's because Airbus actually trained pilots to react this way since, according to them, stalling an Airbus was impossible. To recover from an "almost stall" (which they thought was the worst that could happen), you just pull back on the stick and slam the throttles forward, and the plane would automatically maintain the maximum angle of attack without stalling. Oops, Airbus got it wrong again.
That's only in normal law - you need to research your details before you start bashing something you have no experience with. Stall protections are lost in alternate law, and recovering from a stall in alternate law is part of standard Airbus training.
What's most interesting in this case is that the systems warned the pilots of an impending stall, but then once they were in a stall, there was no warning at all, as if they had recovered from the stall. That's really unfortunate.
That's because once the airspeed drops below 60 knots, the input from the angle of attack vane is ignored by the flight computer. The computed angle of attack is how the flight computer determines the airplane is approaching a stall, so without a valid input from the AOA vane, the computer can't sound the stall warning. The AOA vane is just a triangle-shaped piece of metal sticking off the side of the airplane on a little lever, so the airflow naturally positions it, just like a weather vane. As the angle of attack changes, the vane moves, providing an input to the computer. Below about 60 knots, though, there isn't enough airflow to move the AOA vane to a reliable, steady position, so the information is discarded by the computer.
In this case, you're right, it was unfortunate because it provided a confusing result to the crew. They had pulled the airplane's nose up into a stall, and when the airspeed dropped below 60 knots, the stall warning stopped. At one point, the crew did lower the nose of the airplane, which caused an increase of airspeed, which is of course precisely what they needed, but as the airspeed increased beyond 60 knots, the stall warning suddenly started back up. That made them think that what they were doing was making the situation worse, not better, when in fact they were doing the right thing. They pulled the nose back up and then never got it back down until they hit the water. Even when valid, the AOA vane never indicated an angle of attack of less than 35 degrees - generally speaking, almost any general or commercial aviation wing will be well into a stall by about 15 or 16 degrees AOA.
Color me ignorant (I don't know much about 'planes... just enough to avoid them), but wouldn't an independently powered GPS tell which way is up? Like, uh, constantly?
No. A GPS does not provide attitude information. It merely gives you your three-dimensional position (lat/long/altitude). In any case, on a commercial airplane such as the A330, the GPS data is not generally presented directly to the crew - you can find it, but it's buried in some menus on the computer. In fact, unless you look through the menus on those computers, you have no direct indication that GPS is even installed on the airplane or not.
From the article, it sounds like the flight data recorder has basically been smashed to pieces. This is usually what happens to them; they're really only useful in relatively low-speed accidents.
That's not the case at all. FDRs commonly survive catastrophic high speed accidents. For example, USAir 427 in 1994 crashed in a near vertical nose-down attitude, and pretty much all that was left of that accident was small bits and pieces. The FDR was recovered and was usable. They rolled and went nose down from 6,000 feet, and the last data on the recorder indicated an airspeed of 261 knots (300 mph, or about 135 meters per second), at a 80 nose-down attitude, virtually straight into the ground. If an FDR can survive that, it can survive damn near anything.