Sometimes, you just gotta admit that you’ve been defeated, and move on.
No, I’m not talking about my decision to have someone with a tractor come and till my garden this year, rather than doing it myself because of my recent muscle tear (which is actually healing quite well, thanks).
Instead, I’m talking about going on Facebook. Yeah, in spite of their privacy policies and the whole high-school-popularity-competition nonsense, I bit the bullet and signed up. A personal profile in my name, and when I can get a handle on the best way to do it I’ll also set up pages for my business, BBTI, and Communion of Dreams. If you have suggestions or pointers, feel free to drop me a note, leave a comment here, or (gods forbid, I can’t believe I’m saying this) post something to my ‘wall.’ And yes, you’re all invited to be my friend.
Filed under: DARPA, Government, NASA, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech, Wired, Writing stuff
The Air Force launched a secretive space plane into orbit Thursday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida. And they’re not sure when it’s returning to Earth.
Perched atop an Atlas V rocket, the Air Force’s unmanned and reusable X-37B made its first flight after a decade in development shrouded in mystery; most of the mission goals remain unknown to the public.
The Air Force has fended off statements calling the X-37B a space weapon, or a space-based drone to be used for spying or delivering weapons from orbit. In a conference call with reporters, deputy undersecretary for the Air Force for space programs Gary Payton acknowledged much of the current mission is classified.
The X-37B looks like a miniature space shuttle, and evidently the design was based on that system. The much smaller size (about one quarter the size of the shuttle) does give some indications of the limitations of the missions it could be used on, and it seems to not be quipped for life support – but beyond that, not much is publicly known.
One particular reason I find this of interest is that in the ‘future history’ in which Communion of Dreams occurs, this is exactly the sort of secret tech which has been developed by joint US & Israeli efforts – a fleet of these sorts of unmanned vehicles forms the basis for a concerted effort to establish a colony on the Moon, which are then supplied with personnel by use of new full-size shuttles which have built using the same technology but equipped to handle human life support. One of the main characters of Communion of Dreams, Darnell Sidwell, is heavily involved in this effort, and his role is mentioned in CoD. In my future history, this whole development is about ten years ahead of what is indicated by the news of the X-37B launch. In fact, most of this story forms the background for the prequel to CoD which I have mentioned previously, titled St. Cybi’s Well.
But then, who knows how much of what we’re now finding out is the actual truth? I mean, the Atlas lift capability has been around since the Apollo days. The basic shuttle design goes back to the 1970s. Do you really think that they stopped improving the tech for military applications until just ten years ago?
(Also via MeFi.)
Not quite a year ago I wrote about dodging tornadoes on the way to visit a friend in Arkansas.
And appropriately enough, as spring storms roll through here again this morning, my Good Lady Wife showed me an article in the Rural Missouri newsletter which is a follow-up to that weather event. Here’s the first bit:
Donnie Guinn steps out of his small farmhouse to greet his wife, Marty, who had just returned home from the grocery store. While reaching down for a bag of groceries, Donnie stares toward the sky and pauses, as something doesn’t look right. As a dark line of clouds creeps over the horizon, he urges Marty to head downstairs.
They didn’t realize it, but they were about to experience what several counties across southern Missouri faced May 8, 2009: a derecho.
Spanish for “direct” or “straight ahead,” this term describes a widespread, long-lived windstorm with a band of rapidly moving thunderstorms.
Straight-line winds in excess of 90 miles an hour. Baseball-sized hail. Actual tornadoes embedded here and there. 3-5 inches of rain in an hour.
Good times, good times.
Filed under: General Musings, Science, Science Fiction, Society, tech, Writing stuff
This morning, as I was listening to the latest news about the impact of the Iceland volcano on European air travel, I had that classic science fiction notion: what if what we’re seeing in Europe currently were a simple fact of life all around the globe? And what if it had always been the case?
Think about how the history of flight would have changed if there was a functional barrier to flight at say 12,000 feet. Think about how the history of the 20th century would have changed – perhaps impacting WWII. Yeah, sure, you can fly a jet at 10,000 feet, but it consumes a lot more energy to do so – just that much of a technological challenge could have made a difference in the geopolitical structure of the world. Most cargo is transported by ship or trains, so that wouldn’t change too much, but would the world now rely on ships and trains for most passenger transport? Would we have developed high-speed trains earlier and more completely, perhaps even introducing trans-oceanic train technology?
Or what if something happened now to impose such a limit on jet transport worldwide as we’re seeing in Europe? How would that change our world in the present and going forward? Again, we’d probably find work-arounds – that’s what we do in this technological age – but how would those changes and challenges shape our reality?
There’s an awful lot of interesting fiction waiting to be written with just this one change . . .