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Space

Cold War Plan Tried To Put a Copper Ring Around the Earth 184

Wired has the story of a plan enacted in the early 1960s by the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense that had the goal of safeguarding the country's long-range communications from Russian interference. The solution they came up with wasn't easy, but it was straightforward: launch hundreds of millions of thin copper wires into orbit in the hopes of forming an artificial ring around the planet. From the article: "Project Needles, as it was originally known, was Walter E. Morrow’s idea. He suggested that if Earth possessed a permanent radio reflector in the form of an orbiting ring of copper threads, America’s long-range communications would be immune from solar disturbances and out of reach of nefarious Soviet plots. Each copper wire was about 1.8 centimeters in length. This was half the wavelength of the 8 GHz transmission signal beamed from Earth, effectively turning each filament into what is known as a dipole antenna. The antennas would boost long-range radio broadcasts without depending on the fickle ionosphere. ... On May 9, 1963, a second West Ford launch successfully dispersed its spindly cargo approximately 3,500 kilometers above the Earth, along an orbit that crossed the North and South Pole. Voice transmissions were successfully relayed between California and Massachusetts, and the technical aspects of the experiment were declared a success. As the dipole needles continued to disperse, the transmissions fell off considerably, although the experiment proved the strategy could work in principle."
Space

Kepler May Uncover Numerous Ring Worlds 75

astroengine writes "According to a new publication, NASA's Kepler exoplanet-hunting space telescope may soon start discovering Saturn-like ringed alien worlds. So far, none have been positively identified, as Kepler has only detected exoplanets orbiting close to their parent stars; if these exoplanets have rings, they are most likely to have rings facing edge-on to their orbits, making them nearly impossible to detect. As more distant-orbiting exoplanets are detected, there's more likelihood ringed worlds will be tilted, allowing Kepler to see them."

Crackdown Review 136

When it was first announced that Halo 3 Beta keys were being included in the retail release of an Xbox 360 game, I rolled my eyes. I assumed that whatever they were slapping that key onto was going to be a crappy bargain basement eyesore. It has been a great pleasure to learn that, maybe, they bundled the Halo 3 key with Crackdown so that more people would be exposed to the simple greatness this game contains. To be sure, the game has deep flaws; not much of a story, a few racial stereotypes, and somewhat unsatisfying boss fights mar the experience. At the core, though, this is a mindlessly fun game that does a lot of things right. If there's a sequel, and there's no reason not to think there won't be, it's good to know that Realtime Worlds has established an extremely solid base for future endeavors. Read on for my thoughts on this superjumping shooter.

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