Could the original message (and, thus, presumably 4YEO) be a "Poem Code"?
235 posts • joined 22 Jun 2009
Could the original message (and, thus, presumably 4YEO) be a "Poem Code"?
One hopes that a condition of his release will be that he doesn't touch an electronic device for the next 20 years. And, any violation of that (even answering his desk telephone) will subject him to an additional prison sentence.
Extrapolating that out, by the time they get up to about 30TB, the drives will have a negative mass.
P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the warp drive in the pocket.
Yeah, we learned about Ammonium Nitrate on this side of the pond with the Texas City Disaster back in 1947:
Well, it really depends upon the cuteness of the administrative assistant (which, of course, depends upon the quantity, and, perhaps, the quality, of the beer).
The problem is that I have a mostly very high paying job, in the field of cryptography. Then, again, if someone were to come along and offer me a rather huge pile of money... ;-)
They might be on to something here. I did my MS/EE project paper on optical computing, close to 30 years ago, and most of the limitations he speaks of were known back then. The problem has been that no one has found a way to get around those limitations, at least until now. That idea of controlling a photo-reactive material with UV light, while it switches IR light is interesting, and makes a lot of sense. All they would need to do now is to run the IR light coming through the device through a frequency doubling crystal (e.g., something like KDP) twice to get the IR up to UV frequencies, and then use that to control the switches. And, no, it won't be easy. Based on the progress I've seen over the past 30 years, I'd estimate that his two decade number is quite optimistic. Still, it could happen.
Probably the next thing that needs to happen, though, is for someone to come up with a better/faster/cheaper way of producing the Al doped ZnO. CVD is a bit of a royal pain. Something like the Czochralski process, to produce large, single crystals of ZnO would be interesting, and, based on a quick literature search, it appears that it may be possible, given some rather exotic constraints of crucible/oven conditions.
Of course, massively parallel, ultra high speed cross-bar switches, using the optical switches could also be quite interesting, and may be just the thing that's needed to allow massively parallel conventional processors to be networked. Imagine, if you will, a few thousand (or 10s of thousands, or 100s of thousands) of processors being cross-coupled to many TB of RAM, I/O devices, etc., all of which can be dynamically reconfigured at 4 THz speeds.
There are some of us here to take RNGs VERY seriously. I happen to work on a hardware cryptographic card, which has an embedded hardware RNG.
The basic rule is that PRNGs are all but useless for anything other than toy applications. Even the best ones are subject to predictability, if one had enough data and knows the algorithm being used (and, one has to believe that there are organizations out there that can reverse engineer the hardware/software being used).
There are even some us who are somewhat skeptical of NIST's SP800-90A "Recommendation for Random Number Generation Using Deterministic Random Bit Generators" as being possibly predictable (although unlikely).
As for noise sources, note that not all sources are necessarily random. Some of the posters here have mentioned using Avalanche/Zener Diodes as a source of randomness. There is some empirical evidence that indicates Avalanche/Zener Diodes may exhibit a negative resistance characteristic, under a certain set of conditions, in which case, the typical circuit will produce a relaxation oscillator, which will produce a VERY non-random signal. As evidence of this, consult figure 5, on page 19, of On-Semi's "TVS/Zener Theory and Design Considerations
Especially, note those zigs in the expanded portion of the voltage-current chart, and realize that those zigs represent regions of negative resistance. The theory behind these zigs is something called "Microplasma Discharge Theory", which, as far as I've been able to tell, is not well understood in the physics community.
There are, of course, a LOT more considerations that need to be given to producing a good RNG, but I really don't want to write a book here.
P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pair of loaded dice in the pocket.
"It's also hoped that adding fresh food to astronauts' diets will help them to cope with radiation and may even lift their moods."
So, how long before they start growing marijuana? Or, have they already? Maybe that's what's contributing to the grungy condition aboard the craft. Oh, well, at least the initials will stay the same: International Sewage System.
Do Neutrinos really oscillate, or is there just one type of Neutrino which then interacts differently, and somewhat randomly, with matter?
As for lawyers, which one is going to be the first to file a class action suit for exposing the residents to Neutrinos?
As for watching ice in a bucket, the real question is whether there were beers in the ice? Oh, sorry, chilled beer is an American thing. ;-)
P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pockets full of ice and beer.
What crystalline structure are they attempting? Tin normally has two common allotropes (beta/white, and alpha/gray), although two other allotropes exist at higher temperatures/pressures. Given that the crystalline structure can dramatically affect electron conduction properties, it may not be all that surprising that they're not seeing what they hoped to see. I really have to wonder if what they've deposited has been more of a single atom thickness of an amorphous layer of Tin, rather than a two dimensional crystalline structure of Tin. More analysis/details would be required, though.
Should have taken that Leaded glass faceplate off, you know, the one that blocks most of the x-rays that are being produced, in the interests of, umm, readability. Oh, and, while you're at it, crank the high voltage up from 27 KV up to about 50 KV or so, in the interests of brightness. Just hope that the nuclear power plant that's 10 miles down the road doesn't have too many of their radiation sensors start going off when that monitor is fired up.
P.S. My, oh, my, is that a new tan that you're sporting. It almost looks like it goes all the way through your body.
Excellent analysis. You know your stuff.
You, sir, have obviously been drinking the wrong coffee. Have you tried Kopi Luwak?
Or, maybe your tastes run more towards Black Ivory Coffee?
Umm, I'll have the beer.
Our code librarian/help-desk coordinator released a fix late on a Friday afternoon once, before hopping a plane on an out-of-the-country trip. Unfortunately, I was the PFY appointed to take over while he was away for the next two weeks. At about the time his plane began the takeoff roll down the runway, the installer installed the fix, and promptly shutdown a major code development site (1000+ developers!). And, of course, they all immediately started calling me to fix the problem. AIEEEEE! Talk about being in the hot-seat.
No one has yet mentioned Thor Heyerdahl, and his Kon-Tiki Expedition:
Firstly, you do NOT want to be firing a rifle round upwards. Remember that law that says "Anything that goes up must come down.". Well, a rifle slug will come down, and with a high enough terminal velocity to be lethal. So, that's not a good idea. For that matter, firing a rifle into the air is illegal in quite a few places, due to the propensity to cause fatalities (Ok, so the military gets to do it for ack-ack rounds, but that's a rather specialized case.).
A shotgun, with suitably small shot (e.g., #8 bird shot, or #12, or...) will be effective up to about 50 yards, and won't constitute a lethal situation when it comes back down, mainly due to it's small mass to surface area ratio, and rather non-aerodynamic shape. Yeah, I've been peppered with falling bird shot, and it doesn't even hurt.
As for RF jamming the signals, that would be a bit of a problem, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's against US federal law to interfere with any kind of radio communications. Secondly, you really don't know what frequency the thing is operating on (27 MHz, 72 MHz, 50 MHz, 2.4 GHz, etc.). And, you're not really sure if it's using some kind of encrypted/encoded communications. Sure, you may blanket the entire spectrum with noise, and take out most of the emergency service radios in the process, but you may not do anything to the drone, which may simply remain in position with no radio signal to guide it.
If the thing is outside of shotgun range, well, one would presume that it's probably far enough away to not be a hindrance to any ground based emergency responders. And, if an air tanker happens to drop a load of water/fire-retardant on it, well, that won't be their problem, if this law passes.
As for someone shooting one down, one would presume that they'll ensure the likely crash area to be devoid of people/equipment before the shoot-down.
Probably not as bad as the Castle Bravo nuclear test shot, which was only supposed to be 5 megaTons, but, instead, was closer to 15 megaTons. It seems that the designers missed the fact that the Lithium in the Lithium-Deuteride boost fuel would contribute to the fusion. Whoopsie.
And, yeah, that would require a change of underwear!
Note that some of the islands in the Bikini Atoll no longer exist. Bokonijien, Aerokojlol, and Nam were vapourized during nuclear testing.
P.S. Despite the island chain giving name to a popular type of swimwear, the natives are very modest.
So, what's the charge of a Pentaquark? (Yeah, I could look up the charges of the individual quarks that compose it, and add them up, but surely someone has done that already.). What about the spin?
P.S. How long before someone tries to build a computer-like device with these things?
Aieeee! Have we developed a analog to Godwin's Law? When someone mentions Kim Kardashian, the usefulness of a discussion has come to an end.
P.S. Just please don't name that law after me! Ack! I don't want my name, or anything else, around her.
If Adobe can't write secure code (and, it's becoming rather obvious that they can't), they why don't they just open source Flash Player? Sure, attach some provisions to it that guarantees their ability to suck the updated source back in and use it for their other stuff. But, surely open source people could do a better job of maintaining it than they've been doing.
The primary concern for government officials is human safety. Following that is safety of property. Business Continuity comes in a distant third. And, given the funding levels that most government agencies have to work with, it's rather amazing that they do as well as they do. Further adding to the problem is that a lot of the citizens think that, in any disaster, the government will step in and fix everything, thus requiring them to do no preparation for any type of disaster at all. Unfortunately, that's usually the farthest thing from the truth.
As for my background, not only have I worked for 32+ years as a technical professional (mostly in IT), but I also spent 8+ years as a volunteer on a local governmental emergency response team. The first disaster I worked involved a semi-truck spilling 5000 gallons of an unknown chemical into a local creek, which supplied water for a large number of towns and cities. We had over 21 different agencies responding to that event, everyone from county constables up through the federal EPA. And, it seemed that every agency had their own idea of how to handle the situation. Heck, some of them became belligerent, and there was some danger of fist-fights breaking out between various agency officials. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and we were able to get the various agency heads to sit down and and come up with a unified response plan (Hint: It helps to ask "Who's going to pay for this?". It also helps to know the various statutes regarding who is in charge of a scene, and the statute that allows for unhelpful people to be detained or arrested.).
There was also a lot of misinformation that flowed from this event, despite the best efforts of the public information officer (PIO) to release the true facts, at least as best as were known at the various times. Compounding this were problems with various reporters penetrating the site to get their own stories, and, in the process, becoming contaminated with the unknown chemical, and spreading it around, thus making the cleanup effort worse.
Our main concern, during this event, was the safety of people who derived their water supply from the stream in question. We really didn't have the resources to devote to business continuity efforts until well after the event (e.g., many days later). We did attempt to notify local farmers of the problem, so that their livestock herds weren't affected.
We did have communication problems, since all of the various agencies did not have a common radio frequency which could be used to communicate with them. This was over 20 years before Katrina, so it has been an ongoing problem. Steps were supposedly taken following Katrina to alleviate this problem, but these solutions require money, and, while as there has been some constructive efforts, the emphasis on such communications coordination seems to be waning again.
So, the net result is that the governments will do what they can to assist following a disaster, but, for the most part, businesses, as well as the citizens, will be on their own for quite some time. Thus, it makes sense for everyone, both businesses as well as citizens, to adequately prepare for disasters. That means developing a plan, taking actions before the event, and then testing the preparations periodically. Such actions are not cheap, but they are a lot cheaper than not performing them.
I was doing help desk support during the First Gulf War, and some of the users I was supporting were in Israel. Luckily, none of my users were hit by the Scud missiles launched from Iraq into Israel, but it still makes you worry. :-(
It could also be a person who was recently laid off as their job was exported to the far east, etc. Some of those would see the irony in clipping cables to cut the communications. :-(
I suppose it depends upon how you define "Catastrophic failure". The unmanned Apollo 6 flight had some VERY serious problems related to pogo oscillations in the first stage, which caused some minor structural failures in the CSM. The second stage had some very serious performance problems, so severe that the control system shut down two of five engines on that stage!
The Apollo 13 launch also suffered severe pogo oscillations in the second stage, although these were overshadowed by later developments during the flight. And, the center engine was shut down before the pogo oscillations caused structural failure.
But, as such, not all of the Saturn launches were considered successes.
It needs to be nuked from orbit!
P.S. Why, oh, why, if they can't maintain it, don't they open source it, and let some competent programmers fix it correctly?
I grew up with the space program, and watched most of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches as a child or young teenager. It was all quite exciting, even given the reliability of those programs (Trivia: All of the Saturn V launches were not considered successes, despite reaching orbit.).
For those that care to remember or do the research, Apollo 12 experienced a lightning strike 6.5 seconds into the launch, with the electromagnetic pulse caused by the lightning resulted in the fuel cells going off-line (due to false overload sensing), resulting in the batteries being overloaded, which shut down most of the Command and Service Module, and this triggered just about every warning light in the craft. Fortunately, the first stage Instrument Unit ring remained functional, and kept the rocket flying in the desired attitude (else the thing may have went sideways and broken apart).
It seems that no one had anticipated that a rocket going up towards the clouds, with that long plume of hot, ionized gas behind it, would make for a very effective lightning discharge probe. Whoopsie. As a result of this, new rules were instituted which prevents any launch if there is lightning within a certain distance of the pad (20 miles?). Additionally, NASA installed an array of Field Mills around the launch site to monitor the atmospheric electric field potential, and, if the electric field is above a certain threshold, launches are prohibited.
Obviously, those won't prevent 100 percent of lightning strikes, but they have severely reduced the number of strikes. One can only hope that the metallic outer skin of the vehicle will adequately function as a Faraday Shield, and keep the lightning surge away from the interior components.
As for Jack Swigert, he was only acting on orders to stir the Oxygen tank. And, yes, there had been some stunts involving burping the pressure, but these were unrelated to the failure, for which the root cause was a redesign of the electrical system to a higher voltage system, without the corresponding change in the insulation on the wiring in the Oxygen tank, or a replacement of the thermostat. Coupled with this was the fact that the Oxygen tank was damaged in an accident, where it was dropped, which caused some of the plumbing to be damaged. In other words, there were a whole slew of problems, each of which was relatively minor, but, which when coupled, resulted in the disaster.
As for viewing launches, I got to see Discovery launched in April of 1985 (e.g., pre-Challenger), from a vantage point about 9 miles away from the pad. After the craft had launched, and disappeared behind a cloud bank, the sound finally reached me a good 45 seconds after the launch. And, although I say "sound", it was more of a vibration which shook the ground.
Regarding the timing/speed of the craft, I have to wonder if it wasn't already past the "Max Q" point with it traveling at 1 Km/second. Still, that doesn't mean that the Max Q couldn't have cause something to shake loose or metal fatigue to fracture something. I'm sure there'll be a thorough engineering analysis to identify the failure, and then to ensure that nothing like it happens again.
As for the range safety pyrotechnics, it certainly wouldn't be easy to press that button, even for an unmanned launch (I'm told that only commissioned Air Force officers are allowed to man the range safety button. I assume that's still true, even for private launches.). I have to wonder what the effects were on the officer that pressed the range safety button for Challenger. :-(
Note that there have been Range Safety commanded actions on a number of unmanned rocket flights.
As for the "low cost" supplier, I'm told that Alan Sheppard (who I was pleased to once meet) said that his thoughts, as he was laying in the couch in the Freedom 7 capsule being launched as the first manned Project Mercury launch, were "The fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder.".
As for using LEDs to grow plants, there's been considerable research into that (And, no, not just for "grow-ops"!). It seems that plants only need about two wavelength bands of light, and that the rest of the other wavelength bands are wasted. And, if I remember correctly, there has been some consideration of genetically engineering plants to use alternate wavelengths, although I don't know that too much actual experimentation with such genetically engineered plants has been done yet (or, at least, not published) (Then, again, plant genetic engineering is outside of my field of expertise, so I haven't played close attention to that field.).
Getting them into orbit is only the first part of the problem, and probably the smallest part. Putting them in the correct orbits after they're up, and then keeping them there, is going to be a MAJOR problem. If they get clumped up, well, the system isn't going to work. If they are all in LEO equatorial orbits (or, any other single plane orbit), well, it isn't going to work. For them to work, they're going to have to be spaced out into dozens, if not hundreds of orbital planes, and the satellites in each of those orbital planes is going to have to stay in the correct position with regards to the other satellites in that plane. Trying to do all of that, especially when there's a major solar flare/storm, and the upper atmosphere jumps up much higher than normal, orbital decay is going to be a real concern. Handling precession, gravitational anomalies, and a whole host of other issues involving orbital mechanics, will result in people pulling their hair out. Oh, yeah, and keeping the hackers out of the system is not going to be trivial, either.
So, step 1: Kill the business model. Step 2: File for Chapter 7 bankruptcy? No, wait, it's owned by FB. Still maybe FB will file Chapter 7?
Interesting, but why are they concentrating on Silicon, rather than moving to Gallium Arsenide (GaAs)? GaAs is faster than Silicon. Plus, GaAs is a direct band-gap material, which means that it can produce photons directly from electron transitions, which Silicon mostly doesn't.
I believe that most of the companies that are considering internet from space are looking at using Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites, which orbit at an altitude of a few hundred miles above the surface. There are companies (such as Hughes) which provide satellite internet via Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) satellites. However, each type has their own particular problems.
GEOs, since they're 22,000+ miles up, have a latency of almost a half-second (Time for the signal to go from the user up to the satellite, down to the server, up from the server, and down to the user.). That gets relatively painful for interactive transactions, especially when you realize that other latencies (e.g., server response time, ground transmission time, etc.) add to that. It's certainly better than infinite latency, but vastly inferior to fiber connections. Plus, you need a fair sized dish (18 inches or so?) for the signal to get to the bird and back.
LEOs, since they're only a few hundred miles up, have a much smaller latency. However, because they're so close to the ground, their access circle (the area of ground that they can see) is quite small, perhaps as small as a few hundred miles. Thus, to get adequate coverage, you need a bunch of them orbiting in a pattern. Plus, they usually need the ability to link signals to/from each other so that they have access to a ground access point connection (well, besides the one to the user). Getting 100 or so satellites up, and keeping them in the appropriate orbits, is not cheap nor easy. Obviously, it can be done (e.g., Iridium), but doing so very well may bankrupt the company trying to do it, unless they have an iron-clad business model.
P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the Brilliant Pebbles in the pocket.
Sadly, our Big Red Button has been pressed by accident. The first time was by the contractor who was changing the light bulbs in the room. They leaned their ladder up against the wall beside the door, and it pushed the button. A room with a couple of mainframe computers gets awfully quiet when that Big Red Button is pressed. :-(
The solution was to put a shield around the Big Red Button, so that something leaning up against the wall wouldn't accidentally push it. So, they hired a contractor to install a shield. That contractor brought their ladder in, and leaned it up against the wall beside the door. Uhoh! :-(
Platters? PLATTERS!?! Real computers used magnetic drums, not disk platters. Consider, for example, the IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Calculator, or the IBM 701 computer with its 732 Magnetic Drum unit:
Then, there was the Univac FASTRAND drum:
The gyroscopic effects those things produced was amazing.
Now, I have told you about core memory and vacuum tubes....
May she live long and prosper.
Oh, providing backup power is a VERY complex topic. It's a LOT more complex than simply buying/renting a generator.
Consider that, during a wide-spread power outage, generators disappear at Warp 10 speed. Thus, if you're going to be using one, it had better either be bolted in place at your building well before the event, or it needs to be provided for in a long-planned rental contract with a company who is reliable (probably with clauses which make it too painful for them to renege). And, for anything under about 10 tons, it needs to be locked in place, else it may wander off in the middle of the night.
Of course, simply having a generator won't do much good unless the building wiring is set up with an appropriate transfer switch, which will need to be installed by a licensed electrician in most jurisdictions.
One probably doesn't want the entire building to be powered from the generator, well, unless one wants a really huge generator. So, usually only essential services are powered by the generator. However, the definition of essential varies considerably. Does the room lighting need to be powered, or will the employees be in the dark (literally)? What about the HVAC system? Will the employees be sitting in a tropical jungle environment, or will they be shivering in arctic-like conditions? Will the vending machines be powered, or will the staff be forced to do without coffee? How about workstations? What about networking? What about the phone system, both inside and outside the building? Of course, all of these decisions will impact the electrical system in the building, and may require substantial rewiring.
I've seen some installations which have only powered the machine room. Of course, the first black-out that hits leaves the programmers and support people in the dark, with their workstations shutdown, and no way to support/administer the servers. Whoopsie. I've seen other installations where some bleary-eyed fool plugging in a coffee pot brings the entire generator to its knees and shuts the entire building down. Whoopsie.
There are also safety concerns with where the generator is placed. If it's on the top of the building, can the building withstand the vibratory load it will produce, or will the building come down like a pile of sticks? I'm aware of one roof mounted generator which had fuel supply problems, since the fuel tank was in the basement, and the lack of commercial power meant that the fuel pump couldn't be run to get the fuel to the generator. Whoopsie. Do you really want your employees carting 55 gallon drums of fuel up the stairs?
Also, consider where the generators are vented. Are they vented into the air conditioning intakes for the building? How long before the staff keels over from Carbon Monoxide poisoning? Note that some of those generators have six inch (or larger) stacks on them. That's a LOT of exhaust.
Back to the subject of fuel, will there be fuel available, and of the correct type, for the generator in the event of a wide-spread power outage? Note that most gas stations won't be able to pump fuel in the event that there's a wide-spread power outage (Their pumps run on electricity, too.). But, if storing fuel on-site, can it be done safely? 1000 gallons of gasoline (or even diesel) will make a VERY impressive column of flame if it gets ignited accidentally. Plus, there are legal restrictions on where fuel can be stored in some jurisdictions. Some make it illegal to store fuel in an occupied building. Others may have rules about tank leakage safety. There's the whole insurance thing, too.
Also, can the fuel be stored for long periods of time with out jellifying (polymerizing)? I've seen 5 gallon cans of gasoline that has been stored for a year look more like jelly than a liquid (Hint: Generators don't like trying to burn jelly!). There are products which supposedly keep gasoline/diesel from jellifying, but they have to be bought and added to the fuel.
Oh, yeah, that reminds me. Don't forget to periodically test the installation. It's no good having a backup generator if the thing won't start. Or, if the transfer switch is fused/stuck. Of course, such testing should be done in a manner which won't take the building down if something doesn't work. There's also regular maintenance issues with the generator, such as changing the engine oil. Or, for that matter, even checking that the think has oil in it. There aren't bird nests in the exhaust stack, are there?
I could go on and on (and probably write a book about the things I've seen done correctly and done wrongly), but I think it's clear that providing backup power isn't a simple, easy, nor cheap task. It can be done correctly, but only with the correct people planning and maintaining the installation, and enough resources to do the job correctly.
P.S. I'll get my coat; it's the one with the package of AA batteries in the pocket.
and ban Diane Feinstein from the internet? Every time her name appears, substitute it with an appropriate phrase, such as "whacked out, senile, crazy senator from Kahli-fornia". ;-)
Anonymous (of course).
Why not an IBM 1403 model N1? One of those would run rings around a LP05.
Plus, the N1 model had an auto-cover-raise feature, to let the operator know when it was out of paper. That did wonders for people who stacked printouts on top of it, along with the stray cup of coffee or soda. ;-)
Actually, the Americans did it not quite 20 years ago:
This was a team led by Bill Brown. But, in order to get around those obnoxious regulations, they had to rent a barge, and go 100 miles off-short, so that they were launching in international waters.
It's those pesky FAR 101 rules (14CFR101):
Specifically, it's probably 14CFR101.7(b):
"(b) No person operating any moored balloon, kite, amateur rocket, or unmanned free balloon may allow an object to be dropped therefrom, if such action creates a hazard to other persons or their property."
And, the rocket could always poke someone in their eye, which would make it a hazard. :-(
Oh, there may be other issues, too, such as altitude limits on model rockets, etc.
The usual way these things are handled is to get a waiver from the FAA, which can take forever and then some, assuming that it's granted at all.
There were stars there? There was a mug there? Pardon me; I was mesmerized by the lovely young lady in that picture.
I, too, got to synchronize an AC alternator with the mains while I was in engineering school. And, yes, there were stories of where idiots had gotten the connection/phasing/synchronization wrong and wrecked the alternator. But, that wasn't the worst incident!
I was in the last engineering lab that got to see the power distribution equipment for the engineering building. You see, the power was brought into the engineering building as a 14.4 KV three-phase feed. It entered in conduits, went through a three-phase, oil-filled breaker/switch, then to the three-phase transformer, where it was stepped down to 117/234 Volts for distribution throughout the building.
That three-phase breaker was a real piece of work. It was normally kept locked. And, to use it, after removing the lock, one operated the handle three times, which cocked a spring. At the end of the third stroke of the operating lever, it released the spring, which rapidly drove the contacts apart. With 14.4 KV (RMS) on them, and under a fair load, they would, of course, arc. But, the idea was that the contacts would fly apart so rapidly that the oil would quench the air, in conjunction with the magnetic blowout device (where a magnetic field pushes the arc sideways, to increase the length, to help extinguish it).
Well, some idiot had left the breaker handle unlocked. And, the latch inside the breaker had failed. And, some idiot had precocked it with one stroke. That created a disaster just waiting to happen.
So, as the international graduate student, who was teaching the lab session, started waiving his arms around as he explained the workings of all of the equipment, his elbow bumped the breaker handle. With the failure of the latch, and the partial cocking of the device, it caused the contacts to open by approximately one inch. Now, a one inch gap, at 14.4 KV under full load, will not interrupt the circuit. All it will do is create one h*ll of an intense arc, one that the oil will not quench, but which will merely boil (and carbonize) the oil, causing it to eventually pop the over-pressure relief valve, which causes most of the room to be sprayed with hot oil. Even worse, the magnetic blowout will not cause the arc to be extinguished, but will merely push it sideways, such that the arc between the circuit contacts turns into an arc between the incoming 14.4 KV line and the grounded frame. Ohoh!
This arc will consume megaWatts (or more!) of power, which will not only overload the distribution system, but will create a very substantial phase imbalance in the distribution network. The result of this is that the upstream breakers will trip at the substation feeding the entire university campus. That wouldn't necessarily have been so bad, except that this was on a Wednesday morning, in the dead of winter, when the entire electrical system was under a maximum load condition. The sudden removal of such a significant load, in such a sudden and unbalanced manner, caused the transmission line to go off-line. The sudden removal of the transmission line load on the generating station caused it to go out of synchronization with the rest of the region wide network, causing the entire generating station to go off-line. The cascade was impressive, resulting in a substantial portion of the state being blacked out.
Even more impressive was the stack of paperwork and engineering reports that swirled around for weeks afterwards. Fortunately, no one was killed in the incident, although that was probably more due to pure dumb luck than anything (I am told that quite a few pairs of underwear were ruined!).
And, yes, I can provide details. It happened in the late winter (February) of 1982.
Ever experienced a floating neutral? We have. We lost the neutral to a three-phase fed building once. It probably had something to do with all of the computer equipment that was being used in the building, and the tendency for such equipment to produce a high harmonic content on the power lines, and this tends to cause the neutral currents not to balance out, which results in a much higher than normal neutral current, which has been know to melt/fuse/blast neutral connections. The result is that the neutral connection inside the building starts floating, and all of the phase voltages go VERY wonky due to that floating neutral. I measured 117 Volt outlets producing anywhere between about 70 Volts and 180 Volts. Of course, we shut down all of the computers as rapidly as we could, and, quite surprisingly, we didn't lose any! We did lose a BUNCH of fluorescent lights, though. Yeah, that was, umm, fun.
There is a story of one of the early magnetic drum storage units being installed on a naval destroyer. The rapidly rotating drum produced an extreme gyroscopic effect, so much so that when the captain ordered a course change, the ship refused to respond. I'm not sure if it's real or not, but it might be fun to research.
It's always a good idea to keep a tarpaulin or two around sensitive electronic equipment.
My experience goes the other way, though. Back in the days when computers weighed 30 tons, and were water cooled, one of ours popped one of the elbows in the water cooling supply. The people from below called up, wanting to know why water was coming through their ceiling. It seems that the large and VERY expen$ive computer had lost its water cooling supply, and it was feared that the CPU may have melted down. Fortunately, due to the panicked call from below, the machine was saved. There was still one h*ll of a mess to clean up in the raised floor area, though.
Had that happen to a cow-orker once. She put a 591 milliLiter (20 fluid ounce) screw top bottle of Pepsi in her bag with her laptop, without adequately securing the top. Somewhat surprisingly, the machine lasted long enough to extract critical data from the hard disk before it went casters-up. Fortunately, I had a sufficiently large USB flash key to contain the data. Moral of the story? Don't carry drinks in the same bag as your laptop. And, carry a large USB flash key, too. Oh, and something about remembering to back up your data occasionally.
P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the 64GB USB flash key in the pocket (with the contents encrypted, of course!).
There is the concept of "Jury Nullification", where the jury knows that a defendant is guilty, but decides to acquit him anyway. It's not a well known concept, and quite a few judges/prosecutors/governments/etc., wish that it didn't exist (so much so that any discussion of it can result in a mistrial!). But, nevertheless, it does exist:
Of course, the problem is that there's no guarantee that any particular jury will even know of that concept, let alone apply it.
One the basic tenets of western justice is that the punishment should fit the crime. Thus, I have no problem with the idea of Edward Snowden returning to the USA, facing a fair trial, and serving the 15 minutes of jail time that he deserves.
Ah, yes, the "Castle Bravo" effect:
One presumes that they've also tried Lithium Trinitide as well as Lithium Deuteride, although I couldn't find any references while doing a very quick search. ("Hi guys/gals!" I always include a friendly greeting to any spooks who may be reading my stuff, based on selected/sensitive keywords.). Then, again, most aspects of nuclear weapon design are somewhat classified, well, excepting for all of that design information on wikipedia/wikileaks/etc. :-/
Liquid fueled rockets are not necessarily easy to build, and even harder to control. An alternative approach, using a hybrid liquid/solid fuel design has some advantages. One such rocket, based on asphalt (Yeah, the same stuff they pave roads with.), and Nitrous Oxide (Hehehe!) has been flown successfully:
As for anyone attempting this in the USA, be aware that there are some VERY serious regulations that the FAA and State Department have for flying such rockets Special approvals (e.g., waivers) must be obtained well in advance of the flight, as well as notifying Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers of the impending launch, flight, and disposition of the vehicle, just so that no airliners happen to be in the flight path. And, failure to follow those procedures can subject one to some rather incredible fines, imprisonment, as well as some serious probing.
But, otherwise, keep reaching for the stars.
P.S. Oh, yeah, make sure you know where the closest burn treatment center is located, and have plotted the quickest route to it.