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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."

How Are You Celebrating National Sysadmin Day? 200

jfruh writes "July 26 is Sysadmin Day, the system administrator's version of Secretary's Day. Are you giving your hardworking sysadmin the recognition they deserve? Blogger (and, yes, sysadmin) Sandra Henry-Stocker argues that a holiday like this is needed because due to the nature of their job, in everyday life sysadmins 'get noticed least when they do the best work' So if your systems run so smoothly that you sometimes forget you even have a sysadmin on staff, be sure to recognize them for their excellent work today."

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