Tag Archives: general

Prison inmates at San Quentin get contract to build satellite parts for NASA

The NASA Ames Research Center is known for establishing innovative partnerships and Pete Worden, the former Air Force general who serves as the Center’s director, is known as a maverick. Still, the latest joint venture to come to light has caught even some longtime NASA observers by surprise.

Under supervision from NASA Ames, inmates working in the machine shop at California’s San Quentin State Prison are building Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (PPODs), the standard mechanism used to mount tiny satellites called cubesats on a variety of launch vehicles and then, at the appropriate time, fling them into orbit.

Worden got the idea for the partnership with San Quentin while he was at a party, talking to the spouse of a NASA employee who happened to work as a guard on the prison’s death row. When the guard mentioned the prison’s critical need to establish innovative education and training programs, Worden, a former University of Arizona professor, said, “How about building small satellites?”

 

Keep reading: Space.com - San Quentin Prison Inmates Build Tiny Satellite Parts for NASA

 

 

Continue reading

Amazon makes a bid to own the most top-level domains

If Amazon.com gets its way — and that’s still a big “if” — it will soon control 76 new domain extensions on the Internet. Most observers had expected the company to apply for .amazon and .kindle, but it seems that was just for starters: Amazon’s ambitions also include a host of generic terms, including the likes of .free, .like, .game, and .shop.

Amazon is looking to nab a slew of compelling names, and if things unfold the way Amazon hopes, the outcome of this power play could reshape the world of Internet commerce — at least as it relates to the behemoth that is Amazon. Here’s the roster of terms Amazon is hoping to grab, excluding some non-Latin names:

  • .movie
  • .video
  • .buy
  • .like
  • .kids
  • .cloud
  • .app
  • .map
  • .show
  • .game
  • .hot
  • .pay
  • .mail

While Amazon aims to clean up in what’s becoming the biggest Internet landgrab ever, the public — individuals or business owners — is fated to play the role of bystander in this cyberdrama. Amazon’s names won’t be open to the public in the way that, say, .com names are, where anyone can register AnythingTheyWant.com. Want to own Chocolate.shop? Forget it. As Amazon says clearly: “All domains in the .SHOP registry will remain the property of Amazon.”

 

See the rest of Amazon’s requested domains and read the full storyAmazon.com’s domain power play: We want to control them all

Continue reading

Marine Corps ordered to open certain ground combat billets to women

The Marine Corps wants “a few good men” and some women too:

Commandant Gen. James Amos this week ordered that certain jobs previously meant for men now be opened to women as well. In some cases, the change is meant as a test to help Amos make recommendations about a possible permanent shift.

Amos’ order comes as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered all the services to no longer restrict women from certain jobs because those jobs are “co-located” with ground combat units. Women will continue to be prohibited from direct involvement in combat units and special operations units.

Panetta has called for all the services to report to him in six months about their efforts to pursue “gender-neutral physical standards”; how the experiment of assigning women to certain billets is working; and when more positions can be opened for women.

Among all the services, Panetta’s initiative is meant to open 14,325 job titles to women.

The Marine Corps, with its primary mission being direct ground combat, has 7% women in its ranks, the lowest of any service. The Army has 14%, Navy 16%, Air Force 19%, and Coast Guard 16%.

via LA Times

 

// Photo – DVIDSHUB

Soon cars will be ultra-light-weight and made out of carbon-fibre composites

The race is on to replace steel cars with carbon-fibre cars. All of the major automakers have inked deals to make the switch. The reason being that carbon-fibre is:

Interior view of a production line for carbon fiber heavy tow.

“10 times stronger than regular-grade steel and one-quarter of steel’s weight.”

“Using carbon fiber in lieu of conventional steel can lower the weight of a vehicle component by up to 50 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cutting a car’s weight by 10 percent can improve fuel economy by as much as 8 percent.”

via Reuters

Weight is a big deal in cars. The heavier the car, the bigger the engine and, typically, the lower the fuel economy. This is especially true for electric cars who face limited mileage on one charge, reduce that weight by 10% and you can go an extra 50 miles.

Currently, carbon-fibre is expensive to make and only really used in racing cars. BMW, the first company to invest heavily in carbon, has already found ways to cut production costs.

“The carbon fiber fabric is placed in a mold, and resin is injected under high pressure and temperature. The process, which once took 20 minutes per part, now requires less than 10 minutes. Robots cut and handle the material and components, which previously were made by hand.

The robots will help BMW achieved big savings. A pound of carbon fiber now costs only a third as much as a pound used in the M3 CSL coupe’s roof when the limited-edition car was introduced in the 2004 model year.”

via c|net

50K carbon fibers can be shaped and cured to produce spars for wind energy blades, golf shafts, compressed natural gas tanks, and pultruded beams.

 

Much of this production will happen in Germany or China, with both Volkswagon and BMW working with Germany’s SGL Carbon and General Motors signing with Teijin Ltd. But, just last month, Dow Chemicals signed a deal with Ford to begin research and production.

It’s exciting to think what this technology can do, not only for cars, but trucks, planes, boats, etc.

Energy researcher Amory Lovins, in this TED talk, thinks that when we fully start using carbon-fibre vehicles fuel economy in cars will shoot up to 200 miles/gallon. He says that halving the weight of the car creates compound effects: lighter car, requires a lighter engine, which makes the car even lighter.

 

Carbon aircraft brake disc.

 

// Photos – SGL Carbon

“Trust, but verify” – the code of nuclear treaties

English – “trust but verify”

Russian – “doveryai, no proveryai”

The phrase was used by U.S. President Ronald Reagan at a press conference with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev during the of the signing the INF Treaty at the White House in 1987.

After Reagan used the phrase, Mikhail Gorbachev responded: “You repeat that at every meeting,” to which Reagan answered “I like it.” (thx to Darin McClure)

Why the treaty was important:

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was unique when negotiated and remains so. It was designed as a global ban on all U.S. and Soviet missiles having a range of 500-5500 kilometers and, for the first time in U.S. treaty history, contained verification measures that permitted the presence of U.S. inspectors on Soviet soil, and vice versa. The fact that inspectors could for the first time enter sensitive U.S. and Soviet missile facilities was a breakthrough and harbinger of the end of the Cold War.

The treaty not only eliminated an entire class of nuclear missiles but also “brought about a new standard of openness.”

by Rose Gottemoeller

 

Brought up as my local nuclear power plant faces a growing tide of questions about a nuclear leak. The authorities and corporations involved are providing limited information and asking us to trust them.

Sure, we can trust, but we want to verify.