Lunar Meteor Event

The following video does a good job of explaining, but let me throw in a few words. I used to work at NASA Marshal in the big white building on stilts. (The Lunar Telescope Facility) Heck of a job to hike up those stairs. I stopped working there in 2007, but I made a few of those early observations with Wes Swift, Bill Cooke, and others. A lot of the explanation on this video is from my public lecture on Space Environments. Which isn’t a surprise, Bill and Danielle assisted in the development of that lecture, so their words and mine are a bit similar on the subject.

Overall though, what is interesting here?
1) In space you can get hit with a boulder traveling a more than 40 kilometers per second. What is that like? A nuclear weapon going off. Less radioactive, but you’d be just as dead. More dangerous (because there are a lot of them) is a grain of sand at that speed. It would hit harder than a bullet. Remember mV^2 is the energy you get hit with. If you imagine a “normal” bullet travels at a velocity on the order of 1 kilometer per second – this is 40 times as fast. Square 40, you get 1600. Mass could be 1/1600 and you would “feel” the same energy of a hit. How much would the equivalent mass be to say… a 9MM bullet? about 6 mg. Six Milligrams. so… maybe a big grain of sand, about a millimeter across. Something that could get caught, painfully, under your fingernail could punch a hole in your spacesuit. Factually, as the grain of sand hit you, it would form an explosive plasma which would char out a chunk of your suit about a cm deep while punching you with the full force of the kinetic energy. Might be survivable, but … ouch.

2) A hit from a meteor forms a conductive plasma. If it hit any electrical equipment it’d zap it as well, ground it out at minimum. For example, if it hit your heart monitor, it could ground out that high-voltage capacitor through (heh) your heart on the way to your left foot ground plane. You have to watch your design for inadvertent currents that can kill you.

3) You can really only see these on the dark side of the moon. Luckily, there is a piece of dark side up almost every night. You can’t see (without a light enhancing telescope) the dark part of the moon, but it is still there. Sometimes people forget that the WHOLE MOON is overhead most nights, for all you only see a sliver of it. That dark part is Extremely dark, so little flashes of light show up pretty well. We were only using an 8 inch telescope, the 14’s are a big improvement.

Hawk’s Beer and Movie Reviews (Yea!)

Good Monday to you all and I hope you had a happy Mother’s day. (Ok, for those of us who are guys, if we survived without major damage we’re in luck.) For me, it was a couple movies, a play, skipping fighter practice, and generally getting up with the baby. (And sleeping a bit in the recliner, for which my back may not forgive me.)

The Play was Alice in Wonderland. I want to congratulate Bob Jones of Madison Alabama for a wonderful play. My son had a relatively obscure part manning a projector under the stage, though he also helped in building the set. I’m glad he is learning a skill in high school.

Movie Reviews: We rented Looper and went to Iron Man 3.

Loopers: I like the concept of a time travel flick. This one is flawed.

What the F’ is this gun? Can they not find guns in 2030? They have flying motorcycles, but …

1) Don’t kill people in the future, all crime is solved….
(except the story hinges on a murder and burning a house down… in the future.)

2) Don’t kill Loopers in the past, it changes the future. (Except maiming the shit out of them doesn’t apparently have any effects until the most recent 10 seconds.)

3) Killing yourself or dying stupidly causes a restart on the loop, except when it doesn’t.

There was a very cool moment when our hero or villain saves his memories of a past that no longer exists… or changes something. It seems very important, except it stops being important and has no further impact on the story. I guess it was the only way the hero could shoot the woman in the end…but it frankly didn’t get enough explanation for me to figure out before now.

Loopers – sucks. Don’t watch it. Maybe 1 star in 5 or something. I wish I had drunk more beer before the 1/2 way point. I left and went to work on dishes.

Iron Man 3: This is obviously the 4th story featuring Iron Man. If you have missed any of the previous stories, go back and watch before you get to this one. Oddly enough, this is the story where he finally breaks down and tries to figure out where he is going.

The Mandarin. ARRRGH!!!  Ok, all throughout I thought – “This guy talks like a loony liberal leftist from a freaking demonstration. He plays all the tropes without a single worthwhile concept.” Pissed me off. (Turns out, it wasn’t supposed to be so obvious, but it was part of the plot.)

Iron Man Mark 42: When they become available for the general public…wait for the upgrade. This is the freaking Windows 2000 of the armor world. The final battle felt like Tony was using 20 suits of Nerf armor and the villain had somehow picked up the “Iconic Villain Slaying Sword” the hero was supposed to have. Hated the final battle
That said, this is easily the best Iron Man movie. Easily. I loved 1 and was ok with 2. Avengers was amazing, of course, but this was a movie. It was long, it had character development, and you got to know the villains and the heroes. It had surprises and it wasn’t all “pow” “biff” “bam”

Iron Man 3: If you don’t see this movie, there will be no point in having a conversation with you in the future.

Beer : Tried a Milk Stout – Left Hand Nitro. nice beer. Really liked it. So far, I love Left Hand Brewery.

Look at that nice head… I assume they shook the bottle first, I’ve poured four of them without generating a cm of head.

Look, if you’ve never had a milk stout, try one. Different. You may hate it, you may love it. I can’t tell you what you will think, but frankly, they are dark and creamy and full of flavor. Enough palate nonsense for two beers at least. As a milk stout, the only crime of a milk stout is being thin and weak. I’ve had a few of those. Brewers look at the library paste they are supposed to be putting in a bottle and think, “Gosh, we should water this down with a couple pale ales so that folks will drink it.” *WRONG* If it forms much of a head, then they watered it down. Milk stouts have a tiny, thin, foam that doesn’t last. It has a mild hop aroma. it has a strong sweetness that overpowers the malt flavor – but you can smell the chocolate malt they could dump on top of all that lactose sweetness. Tastes sweet with coffee and dirt (chocolate). Good stuff. Oh, the Nitro is 6% alcohol, so it’ll give you a wallop. Might should start at the next one down…but damn it was good.

Makers Local

I want to point out first that these people aren’t nuts, but they are technology geeks. There are a good number of people who love 3-D printing, laser cutters, fab machines. They also do some hacking, some EMP, and a good bit of random art projects. I think they have a lot of LAN parties as well. Frankly, I’ve been over to the local group a total of twice, but a good friend of mine donated his laser and has built a couple of fabs.

Why? I’m not sure I can answer this for you. Either the idea of playing with a 3D printer is worth a couple nights out of your week, or you go fishing. Huntsville is a pretty tech-savvy town, but I expect that most cities over 100,000 people support one or more “Makers” groups. Heck, I want to play just to cut steampunk gears. (Using the laser, you can cut them out of a vinyl plastic material or plywood and they don’t weigh like brass. A good paint job (or three) and they look like well-used sprockets.  

Not to drift too far afield, I was bringing them up to discuss this marvel.

The 3D-printed gun that Cody Wilson calls the “Liberator.” Click to enlarge. (Credit: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes)

A single-shot lexan pistol is not going to win a gunfight, but it could be built, easily, in one of those 3D printers. Go ahead and ban the design. Go ahead and ban trading in mp3s and japanese anime while you’re at it. The design is out there. It isn’t an assault weapon, but really, nothing sold in the US is, despite the national media. (Oh, the M16’s that our army sells to Mexico’s army are assault weapons…the fact that those weapons end up on the streets of Mexico City is a big issue…but their issue, not ours.) What is the issue is that this is a single summer’s work from an amature. Get a gun professional and a materials scientist together for 6 months and I expect the results will look a lot like a .38 special.

In 10 years, I expect the printable materials will include high temperature ceramics and metals, the printing materials will be better than 90% of the materials currently used on handguns. With the exception of the barrel, I expect that most towns could start an assembly line of automatic weapons. This isn’t to suggest that we ban … something… or make anything illegal, but we really need to discuss the future of technology. “False shortages,” usually due to government interference, are simply not going to affect the rate of distribution to the populace.

My dad used to tell me stories about putting together cars in the barn on his dad’s farm. In the 50’s, the government didn’t control much about cars and couldn’t mandate headlights, much less seatbelts. Now days, the government is happy to restrict everything about cars, guns, or medicine. 99.9% of that is for the good, but those 50 years of regulation may be coming to an end.

The Eagle Has Landed

A month before my second birthday, man landed on the moon. Yes, I know some people argue that it was faked, but unlike so much science today, it wasn’t. There is an app that I can’t access here –

that lets you experience the landing. A shorter, film version, is below. The one below is plenty tense to me. There is also a couple sims out there that let you try to land yourself.

I’m not bothering to embed the codes, lazy day.

Just remember that three men risked their lives for this. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Neil died last July, but Buzz and Michael are still with us. We think about how easy it looks, but frankly it was a life or death struggle. You hear them call out a 1201 error – computer malfunction. 1201 means you ain’t getting data. These guys planned on operating through at least 1 abort signal, they wouldn’t quit for just a minor emergency.

I’ve seen all kind of trolling on the moon landings. Just remember that hundreds of people contributed to these things, there could no more be a fake moon landing than you could fake an Appalatian trail walk while visiting your mistress in Venezuela. People aren’t stupid and there are a hundred details you have to get right or it all comes out in the media. Thousands of people have tracked their work on this and it is all consistant. “Bad Astronomy” covers this and other issues, if you are interested.

Frankly, you have to realize that most people who make these comments aren’t actually ignorant. (Ignorant is an old man who had a dream that the magnetic fields would repulse the Voyager and it would come crashing back to Earth. Yes, he believes something that isn’t true, but it doesn’t hurt anyone for him to believe it.) The guy who confronts Buzz to make him swear on the Bible that he walked on the moon isn’t ignorant, he is a troll. He got a well-deserved punch in the nose. Most trolls just want to exploit pain, become famous, or hurt people. When you see people doing that, just ignore them (or punch them in the nose.) Ya’ll have a good day.