A breath of fresh air (science) in the never-ending media cycle that covers new iPhone rumors. Last week, a new iPhone bending video was released by Unbox Therapy. It compares the shell of the current iPhone 6 to that of a new shell that’s said to be from the upcoming iPhone 6S. …Lew’s basic conclusion holds: the new shell is far stronger than the current one. But no “basic conclusion” is complete without a visit from the X-ray fluorescence unit!
Interesting prototype drone from the partnership company between Sony and Japanese robotics firm ZMP, Aerosense. It looks like counter-rotating blades on a transverse axle that can transform between rear-facing and vertical modes for level flight and takeoff/landing. A couple aerodynamic things it would be interesting to know more about: In vertical mode, it looks like the body provides half a duct for the fan but possibly not for both propellers and definitely not on the back side of the drone.
Infrared video is starting to come to the masses with devices like the FLIR camera but this is a completely different level. I love the way the tarmac heats up behind the engines! That’s one of those details you never think about because you (obviously) can’t see in IR. (the takeoff starts at 5:00 in the above video, embedding doesn’t want to take my start time parameter today) You can pretty clearly see normal striations in the skin of the jet.
If you’ve seen the (relative) deluge of journal retractions over the past couple of years, you’re probably wondering why science is broken. FiveThirtyEight is here to tell you that it’s not, explaining the peer review process and the various ways in which it works or doesn’t. Of particular note are the issues concerning either purposeful statistical manipulation of data or just plain old confirmation bias: If you tweaked the variables until you proved that Democrats are good for the economy, congrats; go vote for Hillary Clinton with a sense of purpose.
Among some of the weirder modifications done to Gulfstream planes were the changes for Shuttle Training Aircraft, a G-II that was used to simulate landings before astronauts jumped into the Shuttle itself. Shuttle approaches were so steep — 20 degrees! — that the jets had to be operated with the main landing gear down and both Spey engines running in reverse at 92% N2. N2 is a measure of the rotational speed of the high-compression stage of the engine, so 92% reverse N2 is almost full throttle in the opposite direction!
Fusion! Unlimited power! Superconductors! Yeah, this article is easy to dismiss as spin on fusion tech that is perpetually just ten years away. But two interesting things about this particular design: It uses new commercially available superconductors made of rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tapes that are capable of producing high-magnetic field coils. The stronger magnetic fields generated by these coils do a better job of confining superhot plasma, so the reactor can be smaller, cheaper and take less time to build.
We went to Argentina! Rebecca was in Guatemala for reasons in late October and continuing our tradition of traveling after other travel, we skipped down to Buenos Aires for two weeks in early November. There are so many fascinating cultural details from far away places that I think about when I’m traveling and it seems that I always forget to write about them when I return. So I took some notes this time while I was away and this is my attempt at turning those into a cohesive post.
In my small experience with Chromebooks, they make a great guest machine for visiting friends and for personal use ChromeOS is somewhat hackable itself. For power users, given that the software is specifically designed for the hardware it’s being run on, you have a nicely paired linux machine - probably a better choice than trying to find linux kernel extensions for your custom built machine. Although you can make ChromeOS a development environment if you’re into VIM or emacs, it’s probably the hardest way to get started coding.
We’ve waited ten long years since Rosetta launched but finally, after flybys of Earth (three times), Mars and other asteroids, Rosetta will finally reach the Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet tomorrow. It’s already pretty close (as seen by pictures it’s sending back) but it will officially decelerate into orbit around the comet which is a first for humanity. After mapping the surface for a while, it’ll achieve another first by sending the air-conditioner sized Philae lander towards the comet which should be able to grapple onto the surface and send back data about the general make up of the comet.
Someone at NASA clearly read my issues with the SpaceX cockpit layout while designing the Orion capsule. Note the easy to reach joystick and lack of information overload on the screens! Seriously though, it’s interesting how similar the SpaceX and Orion configurations are. Just a few seats and a screen that folds down in front of your face!