124 posts • joined Friday 14th December 2007 20:08 GMT
Re: Dual use
It's the biggest mirror outside the atmosphere by a long way, as far as I can recall which gives it an advantage in the infra-red imaging spectrum, and it actually got built and launched and used. The JWST seems to have grown roots and its launch and commissioning is receding deep into the future almost as fast as the universe is expanding...
I'm envisaging the Herschel could have carried an additional lower-resolution detector operating in the near IR, cooled by a heat-pump and used for recording time-series IR data of dynamic changes in nebulae etc. over a period of years or even (if the money and hardware held out) decades. The Hubble has been kept running for nearly thirty years now after a lot of teething-trouble TLC and it still has a few more years left under the hood so I'd expect the Herschel's "bus" with its more modern hardware to be able to match that to support an extended scientific program if the detectors were available.
 I think there's a radiotelescope satellite that's got a bigger collecting dish but it's not optical.
It's a shame there wasn't another instrument on board that could make use of that ginormous mirror now the primary mission is complete.
Re: Like a lava lamp for people with X ray vision
Pumping room-temperature gas into a column of molten metal at several hundred degrees C is going to cool it down significantly, requiring more external energy to be injected to keep it operating. The more gas injected, the more energy needed to keep the column from cooling down and solidifying.
Is the decomposition reaction endo- or exothermic? If it's exothermic then it's possible some of this cooling effect can be alleviated but I suspect TANSTAAFL applies.
Re: Scientific Terminology
"Lessee, did I forget anything?"
Don't buy a house in a development called "The Water Meadows".
The Three Mile Island and the Fukushima reactor explosions were not due to "flash-boiling" overpressure they were due to a high-temperature catalytic reaction involving the fuel rod cladding material, zirconium decomposing steam into hydrogen and oxygen which then recombined violently. Flash-boiling happens all the time in Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) where water flashes into steam as it is sprayed onto hot fuel rods inside the reactor vessel.
Re: connected to a drain plug of salt that has been frozen solid
I visited Fukushima City last year. It's about 60km NW from the Fukushima Daiichi plant on the coast, in line with one of the contamination plumes. It's got a higher background count than it did before the explosions and releases but it's not been evacuated. If I spent a year there I'd have picked up about 8-10 mSv of exposure or about 10% of the annual permitted dosage of a nuclear industry worker.
Re: low carbon energy source?
Germany has a carbon footprint of about 10 tonnes per person per year despite (or possibly because of) their dash for renewables backed by burning fossil carbon in the form of Russian natural gas as well as the hundreds of millions of tonnes of lignite and hard coal they burn each year to keep the lights on. France which generates 80% of its electricity from nuclear power stations has a carbon footprint of 5 tonnes per person per year, and has done so for about thirty years now since most of their reactor fleet came on stream in the mid-80s.
Re: Even if it does generate Pu
Depleted uranium isn't particularly toxic either in its metal form (or oxide if it's the result of a DU weapon hitting an armoured vehicle and lighting off). Most uranium compounds are not absorbed easily by the body and excreted (if ingested or inhaled) quite soon after exposure. Same for plutonium although it is a bit more biologically reactive than uranium. The radiotoxicity of uranium generally (U-235 and U-238 which makes up nearly all of the uranium around) is very low; the raw ores which include billions of years of decay products are a lot more radioactive than refined metal and oxide-form fuel pellets. Pu isotopes are a lot more radioactive with shorter half-lifes and hence more radiologically dangerous if ingested or inhaled but again they don't tend to linger.
After WWII when uranium and plutonium became strategic materials being processed in tonne quantities in factories and enrichment plants a lot of research was done on their effects on the human body as contamination, ingestion, inhalation etc. were going to happen. The experimental results were as I described above, not much basically. There are a lot of other metals which are a lot more dangerous and biologically active such as arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, lead etc.
Re: An injection moulded magnesium chassis?
Never worked with magnesium, have you? It shows, rather.
There's this little thing called heat conduction -- magnesium is particularly good at it. Applying a mere thousand degree flame with a few watts of energy to a spot on a piece of solid magnesium will damage the surface but it will not cause the magnesium to undergo rapid oxidation (or to use the simpler word, "burn") since the energy is rapidly dissipated.
Igniting solid magnesium requires a lot of energy -- an acetylene torch running oxygen-rich might work on a Surface Pro's casing but not much less, a few kW of heat on a square cm or so. Magnesium alloy aircraft wheels required a bonfire before they'd go off as I've been told by friends who have experimented in that direction. A pure oxygen atmosphere would help too.
Turn the magnesium into shavings or fine powder and you've got more chance of lighting it off with a low-energy source like a cigarette lighter but then again aluminium will do the same thing, it's why Al powder is used in solid rocket engines.
Here's a review of the Surface Pro being used for artwork production and gaming by a web cartoonist and games industry artist, "Gabe" of Penny Arcade including some WIP videos of him drawing and editing with it.
How much to build a Surface Pro?
Has anyone done a BOM teardown of the Surface Pro yet, costed out the components etc.? The price is way high but are MS actually making a profit on each unit sold or are they loss-leaders?
Re: One question I have always asked myself
Once the wind-generated electricity is "used up" it ends up as heat anyway, so no cooling effect would be noticed.
Re: Helium vs. Hydrogen
Gaseous hydrogen is even harder to contain than helium so the seals in the hard disk enclosures would have to be improved at great expense. The use of hydrogen in power station generating sets for cooling is based on good ventilation and gas detection systems that report buildups of dangerous levels in the turbine halls since they are not totally sealed and leakage is expected.
I'm seriously tempted to buy one of these when they come out, mainly because of the high-quality pen stylus input which I've not seen offered on any other tablet anywhere near this price point. Wacom sell a 12" display digitiser, the Cintiq 12WX costing 800 quid which the Surface Pro digitiser matches according to its published spec (600 dpi resolution, 512 pressure steps, pen angle sensing). That trounces a rubber nub stylus on the iPads and Android devices if you're interested in a mobile graphics editing device.
A US company, Modbook rebuild Apple laptops into a tablet form factor by integrating a Cintiq 12WX but they charge 3000 bucks for what the Surface Pro can do out of the box. I'll be interested to see if someone can Hackintosh OS/X onto the Surface Pro hardware or even run it in a VM under Win 8.
Re: Stuff the L115A
"a bolt action rifle is better for a sniper as with a semi-auto you get some kick back before the round has left the barrel which can put your shot off enough to miss"
Old wives tale. A rifle bullet as used in sniper work (7.62mm or the newer .338 Mag) takes less than 2 millieconds to clear the muzzle after firing whether in a bolt-action or a self-loading rifle. The gas-operated piston in a self-loader doesn't start to move until well after the bullet is gone, never mind unlocking the bolt and starting extraction. Felt recoil from the shot is the same whatever weapon you fire, pretty much.
A bolt-action has better repeatability shot to shot compared to a self-loader with better control of the headspacing, cartridge seating in the breech etc. which means better accuracy at range. It's also lighter and more compact than an autoloader in the same calibre, important for a sniper who often has to carry all their own kit for long distances in rough terrain and it's more reliable too with fewer moving bits to go wrong.
"The big gun aka Ma Duce or M2 machine gun shoots a .50 BMG. You can't put that in to a handgun."
Bets? People do the stupidest things with firearms. There's a Russian company who make revolvers chambered for .600 Nitro Express. They kick a bit.
Long time back I got to fire someone's Swing pistol chambered in 7.62mm. That kicked a bit too.
The first Robocop movie used another dressed-up silly pistol, the Berretta 93R pistol-carbine and not the Desert Eagle. They modded it by fitting the carbine shoulderstock cam that allowed three-round burst directly to the grip to make the muzzle compensator flash look really good on film at 24 frames per second. Recoil was dealt with by having the gun mounted on a solid frame when it was being fired plus careful choice of camera angles.
Re: Navigation Budget
SRBs are incredibly well-behaved compared to LOX plus anything with carbon and/or hydrogen in it and a lot easier to handle and store, one reason most military missiles use solid fuels these days. The material they're made of (an auminium powder and perchlorate mix plus a binder in the case of the SRBs) doesn't explode, it burns rapidly (and there is a difference, pressure shockwaves in the supersonic and hypersonic regime and such).
The loss of the Challenger was due to a flame leak at an SRB joint which cut into the liquid-fuelled External Tank "bomb" and set it off. If the flame had been directed towards the outside of the stack away from the ET then the Challenger would probably have survived and made it to orbit.
I don't know what fuel the Dragon capsule's LES is going to use. I presume it will be storable hypergolics such as UDMH and N2O4, not something I'd be comfortable sharing such a compact capsule with in quantity.
Re: LED lighting instead of fluorescent 'haz mat'
I've taken a few prematurely-dead CFL bulbs apart in the interests of SCIENCE!!! and without exception it's the cheapass electronics inside that failed; bulged electrolytic capacitors, bubbly transistors (obviously failed short and/or fried) and smoke-emitting fuses. The tubes themselves are probably fine.
LEDs meant for lighting fixtures have their own problems; the diodes have a positive temperature coefficient so they need control circuitry to prevent thermal runaway since they are run hard to produce lots of light per square millimetre, and heatsinking them is also a good idea to prevent them dying young. The alternative is to simply wire lots and lots of cheap 3mm or 5mm white LEDs together in an array but once you try and light an office to H&S requirements with that kind of setup it becomes more problematical and expensive.
Re: Navigation Budget
I don't think the first stage has anything like the energy at separation to make it across the Atlantic on its own. The Spanish landing strips for the Shuttle abort plans required the Shuttle to continue in powered flight for several minutes with or without the SRBs. Going by other boosters (as actual data about the Falcon series is not easily findable) the first stage of a three-stage stack like the venerable Saturn V separated about 50km up at about 3km/s velocity, maybe 2km/s ground track and I expect the Falcon's profile is similar.
Thinking about it, one solution for SpaceX would be to buy a redundant aircraft carrier and land the spent first stage on that somewhere out in the Atlantic. It would solve the safety problems of bringing the stage back over land and populated areas and would save on fuel needed to fly it back along its track as the carrier landing could be done at a point based on weather predictions for wind drift etc. at the end of the stage's ballistic track rather than have it reverse course. It would also allow Musk to one-up Larry Ellison and his Mig-29...
Re: Fifteen years earlier
A taxi to where? The ISS is due for decommissioning in a few years time -- given the US current budgetary difficulties the agreed mission extension past 2016 is looking less and less likely to happen unless the other partners dig into their pockets, something they've been noticeably reluctant to do in the past. I suppose there might be flights to the Chinese space station if it gets internationalised. There's Bigelows large balloons filled with hot air, true vapourware, and... that's it.
The Shuttle flew space labs in its versatile cargo bay, it had the airlocks and volume to allow mission specialists to perform multiple EVAs for assorted projects such as Hubble repair, satellite recovery, military missions and ISS construction. The Dragon capsule is spam-in-a-can, Apollo-era tinned monkey without the end-game of a boots-and-banners mission to the Moon to beat the damned Commies to justify any flights at all.
Re: Fifteen years earlier
Being pedantic to be polite... The Shuttle's ET could have been carried to orbit; it was nearly empty at Main Engine Cut Off (MECO) and there were BOTE plans at one time to collect them in orbit to build a space station and/or orbital tank farm for fuel and consumables for Moon and Mars missions etc. but that presumes a much greater operational presence in space than actually happened -- I saw suggestions in the 70s that an expanded Shuttle fleet (8 to 10 airframes) could be carrying out fifty flights a year but of course this never happened. The ET was ditched before orbit was achieved to ensure it would come down somewhere predictable in the Pacific rather than letting drag deorbit it randomly weeks or months later. The Shuttle was unique in that its main engines burned from takeoff to orbit, a critical part of an SSTO design I think you would agree.
The Soyuz capsules already use rocket braking to soften their landing but it's not a zero-zero landing system, it just takes some of the energy out of the ground impact after the parachutes have bled off most of the vertical speed.
As for the Dragon capsule being "cramped", I'd compare it to the Shuttle's accommodations which were spacious in comparison for the same planned crew capacity, seven. It's also missing a toilet, one of those luxuries that you get to appreciate after your tenth day in orbit from what I've been told. No shower either.
Re: Great job of controlling that rocket....
For range safety reasons most if not all US orbital launches fly over the ocean and the first and subsequent stages end up crashing in open water. The SpaceX recovery system will require the first stage to actually reverse course to come back to land, even if it doesn't return to the original launch site. This is a lot more expensive in fuel than simply arresting a vertical drop to a zero-zero landing after parachutes have taken most of the energy out of the fall from twenty miles up. They are also talking about similarly recovering the second and third stages, possibly with heatshields which also adds to the weight penalty.
The interesting point is that the first stage will in effect be a guided missile with the possibility of it going astray and ending up in, say, downtown Miami or some other populated area instead of returning to the desired landing spot. How they are going to cover the insurance costs on that I don't know.
The Thiokol deal was basically that there was only really one company in the US that has experience with big solid-fuel motors and that happens to be in Utah. Their main business was producing military IRBM and ICBM motors for Peacekeeper, Trident and Polaris and the like. When the decision was made to go with SRBs on the Shuttle they were pretty much the only US business who could produce the goods. I don't know why NASA didn't go with the alternative of liquid-fuelled strap-on boosters like several other launchers such as the venerable Soyuz use, but then again the Ariane5 uses solid-fuelled boosters too.
Re: Fifteen years earlier
Yep, RS-25 not RS-68 as you said. Mind fart on my part, sorry.
As for the SSTO fully-recoverable Delta Clipper concept, yes I would regard it as absurd. The energy budget is against it -- there isn't a disposable rocket today that can do SSTO even with LOX/LH2, the best fuel/oxidiser combo available (the weird experimental fluorine fuel combos don't give much extra Isp advantage over LOX/LH2). The Shuttle was closest to the SSTO concept but it still required the SRB strapons to get off the pad at all. Skylon (or whatever it's called this week) is airbreathing for a good chunk of its initial ascent so isn't a true SSTO rocket and besides it's still mostly a paper exercise.
What the prototype DC-X proved was that the vertical-landing system was possible and could be implemented in hardware, and they did this fifteen years ago. The amount of fuel and oxidiser required to softland a first stage, SpaceX's intent, is not the real problem as a residual few tonnes will go a long way when the tanks are nearly empty and the first stage is down close to its dry weight at separation, assuming they don't fly-till-dry as most staged rockets do today. The real problem is the extra mass of the landing gear etc. and the other equipment needed to achieve the soft landing as this has to be launched along with the rest of the rocket costing extra fuel to reach the same velocities.
SpaceX have also been working on a rocket-landing variant of their Dragon capsule but how much of the payload and volume of the capsule would be taken up by fuel tanks, rocket motors, pop-out legs etc. they're not talking about much. It's already quite cramped in there as it is.
Re: Fifteen years earlier
The Grasshopper is not capable of getting to orbit either. The DC-X flew higher, for longer and further crossrange than the Grasshopper has. I suspect the goal of a orbit-capable rocket's first stage landing as the DC-X and Grasshopper do is physically impossible due to mass fraction constraints, given the fuel/oxidiser combo of LOX/LH2 (the best known) as used on the DC-X only gives an Isp of about 320 or so at sea level and the LOX/RP-1 Musk engines are even worse with a sea-level Isp of 250-odd.
The RS-68 Block 1 motors used at the start of the Shuttle program were supposed to be rated for ten flights before rebuilds were necessary; in the real world they were rebuilt after every flight. Later variants including the RS-68A Block 2 motors were rebuilt after every flight too but they were easier and cheaper to refurbish.
Fifteen years earlier
The DC-X Delta Clipper hover tests did more and better fifteen years ago. You can find video of the various test flights on the Web.
The extra weight and complexity of a softlanding recovery system eats into payload meaning the need for much larger rockets for the same capability with more stuff to go wrong, and the recovered rocket motors, pumps etc. will need extensive refurbishment afterwards. The Shuttle was a reusable spacecraft after all and it cost a lot more per flight than an equivalent one-shot launcher would have for the same payload. Saying that it had other benefits that outweighed the extra costs.
The Triangle Trade is one way brokers can turn dirt into dosh. Buy cheap gear in one place, trade it to another place for something that is in demand in the third location and use that to get lots of stuff there that's highly sought after in the place you started from. Do it the right way round and it's a very nice little money earner.
Someone I know did this with collectible trading cards; he bought unpopular cards cheap in Britain, traded them (well, that's what they were made for after all) in Holland for different ones and then took the cream of the crop to the Czech Republic where he loaded up with cards that were for some reason not to the taste of the locals but were eagerly sought after back in Blighty. A few trips round the loop and he had enough money to make a small fortune by opening his own gaming shop (he started with a large fortune).
Quart out of a pint pot
The in-desk power strips in office setups usually have individual 3A fuses for each socket so the entire 4-socket strip can only pull 12A maximum. As someone else mentioned you do get idiots who plug fan heaters and such into their desk power sockets which would burn out the false-floor distribution cables and/or pop circuit breakers if the sockets weren't individually fused.
During an office refurb I had to cope with a numpty trying to run his 1500W hammer-drill off a convenient 3A-fused desk socket. He was puzzled that every time he fired the drill up it would run for a second and then stop. He had gone through three or four desks before I managed to get him to stop doing this. I then backtracked and replaced all the fuses he had blown -- why yes I do keep a couple of packets of 3A 20mm slow-blow fuses in my toolbag, why do you ask?
There's the CintiQ 12WX from Wacom although it's transportable, not portable. Of course it's not limited to OS/X as it can hook into a PC as well to run a wider range of software such as 3D Studio, AutoCAD etc. The pen on the CintiQ 12WX reports 1024 pressure levels and recognition resolution is 0.005mm (both twice that of the digitizer fitted to the Apple) and it costs about $1000. Add in a MacBook Pro at $1200 and you've got a more flexible bundle (although not a unitary fondleslab) for two-thirds the price of the tablet plus another screen and a keyboard/trackpad.
Re: Call me crazy but...
I note with interest that the bod who produced this pile of drivel is himself a CTO. It's possible he's hoping for a CIO post to open up in his own company and is taking this opportunity to, as the BOFH would say, grease the stairwell treads...
Re: retro styling
It's that skeumorphic thing Apple are so proud of, you know calendars with spiral binding graphics at the top, Post-It(tm)-styled sticky notes etc. Same with their mapping app, although in this case it looks more like they used a Daguerrotype camera in a Montgolfier balloon rather than anything as high-tech as a Kodak.
Four and the Far East
The Japanese for four is "shi" which also means "death" (lots of operator overloading in Japanese, especially the single-syllable words...) so it's commonly replaced by "yon". Seven is "shichi", again with the death angle and it's often replaced by "nana". I don't know if the same sort of thing applies in modern Chinese.
The creative director, scriptwriter etc. for Haibane Renmei, Serial Experiments Lain and Texhnolyse was Yoshitoshi ABe. He does a lot of scribbly semi-amateur manga (which I buy when I can find it in the doujinshi department in the Mandarake store) which is sometimes used as the basis for anime. There's a new work in progress, Despera which has supposedly been optioned for production as an anime but it seems to be in Development Hell at the moment.
"Transistor Teaset" is a manga set in the electronics subculture of Akiba, where a teenage girl is trying to keep her grandfather's parts stall running, building robots (which don't work very well in a strange way) and coping with friends, life and bureaucracy.
Commoditisation of electronics has led to places like Yodobashi Camera and the rival Bic Camera chain but Akiba still supports more modern hacker cultures, in robotics for example or in modelling -- there's some fabulously accurate model parts made using micro-CNC machining and laser cutting systems and if you want something custom made then supply them with the CAD files and turnaround can be as little as half an hour if they have suitable feedstock on hand in the back of the store.
Time moves on and the old Akiba is not what it used to be, but it's still packed every weekend with shoppers, gawkers and hawkers (and me, occasionally).
Open all hours
Why don't we have these "post offices" of which you speak open till ten or eleven at night, when working folks can get to them rather then them shuttering at four or five when said working folks are, you know, miles away, at work?
Something like the CollectPlus service has been running in Japan for a few years now based around the "konbini" (convenience store) chains like Lawson's, 7-11 etc. Many of the city centre konbinis are open 24 hours a day so data-centre night owls getting off shift at two in the morning can collect their Rakuten or Amazon.co.jp deliveries at their, ahem, convenience. They can even pay for the deliveries using an NFC swipe built into their ketai (mobile phone) which is, I understand, the next great Apple invention which inventive Apple has invented and nobody else on the planet ever has invented.
Windows-To-Go on a memory stick, even a USB 3.0 one, will top out at 50 MB/s and that's through a polled data transfer system. My desktop has a last-generation SATA 2 SSD giving me about 300MB/s DMA read speeds for the OS (which happens to be Win 8 RC) and programs, and modern commodity SATA 3 SSDs are close to 500MB/s data rates which creates an even greater disparity.
WTG is a useful "spare wheel" option but it's not a replacement for having an OS properly installed on a fast HDD. Besides why would MS' market share be affected since WTG still requires a paid-for licence? I see the same arguments elsewhere that Win 8 can be run in a VM on an Apple or Linux box which means, somehow, that Steve Ballmer will be living in a carboard box under a bridge next year since MS will inevitably go bust.
A typical garage has a 440V 3-phase supply at 100A, enough to run the lights, pumps, the till, the coffee machine, the hot-air blowers in the toilets, the carwash out back and a bit in reserve. That's 3 x 240V x 100A, about 70kW or enough power to charge a single electric car from near-empty to full in about 50 minutes or so, assuming everything else is switched off during the charge cycle.
A five-minute charger for a 60kWhr battery pack will need to deliver 700kW; at 400V, the typical voltage for most car batteries, that's 1700A. The cables alone would be spectacular and the contacts in the connectors would have to be something really special.
Folks don't realise how much energy there is in liquid fuels like petrol compared to batteries.
This isn't the RT tablet you were looking for?
Wild speculation, but could MS be planning on releasing a 7" RT tablet to match the Google Nexus 7 in terms of form factor and pricetag? The RT tablet they showed off to the public a few months ago was iPad-sized with a 10" screen but the parts and production lines are available for a smaller device as the Android market shows. Assuming ARM RT is not resolution-dependent then developing a smaller low-cost tablet to support it shouldn't be that difficult.
The skycrane crash site will be leaking fuel and oxidiser from the rocket motor tanks and that could contaminate the instruments on Curiosity. They will be keeping the rover well away from it for that reason -- it's why they didn't simply land the rover on retro-rockets in the first place as that would have covered the payload in dust and chemical residues. There's no point other than, obviously, curiosity to go and look at some wreckage, no Science! in it, instead they're looking for pristine bits of Mars to crush and blast into teeny tiny fragments under the wheels of their fully operational nuclear-powered laser-armed supertank.
Two unsung heroes
Somewhere today Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson are necking a pint or two while telling each other "I TOLD you it would work!"
I suggested using a vacuum tank a while back. A tank allows the pump-down of the test chamber to be carried out over a few minutes to match the predicted change in pressure during the ascent rather than just relying on how quickly the pump can exhaust the chamber. An air compressor tank good for 10 bar gauge or so working pressure will easily withstand the crush forces from holding a vacuum.
Ruggedised solid-state pressure gauges are pretty cheap and readily available and a lot more useful than a simple dial indicator for logging and recording the pressure changes.
During the last Shuttle flight to the ISS in 2011 the station had the Japanese HTV-2 cargo ship, a Progress cargo capsule, a Soyuz capsule and the European "Amaldi" ATV docked to it at various ports. The Shuttle's launch was delayed by a few days as the ATV was manoeuvering to dock with the ISS and the mission controllers didn't like the idea of having two separate spacecraft moving around in the vicinity of the station at the same time.
The CLI is best described as powerful, cryptic and dangerous. Many GUIs are basically wrappers around a CLI-like command parser, in part to make things easier for the user to carry common tasks and in part to prevent something Godawfully stupid from happening because of a miskey. Anecdotally, I was using a CLI the day I accidentally reformatted the office dev server's hard drive. It would have taken a lot more effort to achieve this via a GUI.
Re: Sounds like a stich up
Part-way through the installation process, a marching band comes high-stepping down the corridor into your cubicle playing "Don't click that malware button!" at 130dB accompanied by fireworks and strobe lights, and you click "yes I want to be anally raped by baboons on WebTV pay-per-view" anyway because that's what you do, clicky the linky.
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred Joe Soap will clicky the linky no matter how much warning you give them. I may be underestimating the ratio a bit, though.
The x86 version of this tablet will run full-featured Photoshop and Adobe Creative Suite and assuming the stylus is pressure-sensitive (not mentioned in any reports I've seen but it's likely) and with the reported 600dpi resolution then this makes it an ideal portable Cintiq-type device for graphical artists, photoeditors etc.
I wonder what it would be like running OS/X?
Re: Got to be easier than travelling with a Hugo Award
A friend of mine had to fly back from the US with a Hugo in his luggage to deliver it to the British World Famous Author who had won it. This was a few days after 9/11 happened.
Nowadays the Worldcon committee Fedex the awards to overseas winners assuming they don't want to take them home in their luggage or they've not made other arrangements.
Re: There's certainly room in the Retina Macs for both.
That high-pixel-count display is going to be a power hog, same as the iPad 3's high-def screen was a major reason for the large increase in battery storage from the first iPads. It's not surprising they've stuffed the case of the new Retina Mac with batteries to support the "long battery life" selling point Apple has always used as a marketing bullet point. Finding out how the case design deals with heat dissipation when the CPU gets hammered doing, say, video editing is going to be interesting.
Re: I must be travelling to the wrong places
Nearly every businessman-type hotel I've stayed at in Japan had wired Ethernet for in-room Internet connection at no extra charge. A few had spectacularly crappy dropout-prone slow Wifi with insecure WEP keys etc. The crowning glory was the hotel which gave me a WPA key that didn't work until I realised Japanese folks didn't understand there was a difference between "hotelxxx" and "Hotelxxx".
Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"
Ah yes, the ring wing. It was further developed into the SSZ concept aka the Super Sonic Zeppelin. Fit a shockwave-trapping ring wing around a lighter-than-air dirigible which provides the lift and it can go supersonic without those discomfiting bangy noises. Drag is someone else's problem.