Tech Tuesday for 12/4

Tech Tuesday for 12/4/2018

In case you’ve been living under a rock this past week, NASA put another probe onto Mars. This one is basically a seismograph. Just a reminder, this is still a very tricky thing to do, and the fact that we get it right more often than not is worthy of the admiration of the people who put this stuff together.

Speaking of probes, OSIRIS-REX has achieved orbit around the asteroid Bennu.

He was particularly drawn to the futuristic shuttlecrafts that effortlessly skimmed through the air, with seemingly no moving parts and hardly any noise or exhaust.

Hydrogen stored in a liquid at STP, as a gasoline replacement. Sounds wonderful, but for something that is being touted as Open Source, I’m not seeing any obvious chemical formulas so I can understand how the Hydrogen is getting bound to the liquid, nor how the mystery catalyst is doing it’s job.

They have spread so far, so fast that they may be one defining sign of our times. The shells they leave behind can enter the geologic record, and survive for ages to come as a marker (“we were here”) in deep time.

New full body image scanner. There’s a couple of links to videos in the article, be sure to check them out, because damn if that isn’t impressive!

Ooooh, a pretty Pinwheel of Death!

Stellarator fusion reactor sets new records. Fusion power still 20 years away. Note: my Alma Mater finished building one of these about 20 years ago.

It’s about time we started co-opting viruses to our benefit. Now if we could just engineer the cold virus to help with weight loss, I might enjoy having the sniffles.

ISS turns 20! Happy Birthday, you fantastic bit of easy to spot orbital amalgamation!

Factories! In! Space!

Bioengineering replacement spinal disks. Oh, and look, there is some glue for that, and other cartilage replacement.

Speaking of hydrogels, we can use them for gathering water as well.

Using photosynthesis to convert CO2 into plastic.

It’s good to see more things being designed and built with additive manufacturing, but I’m still waiting for them to get Tweels out and on all the roads.

Oh, man, this just hits all the right aerospace geek notes for me. ESA astronaut caught the launch of Progress rocket.

I got nothing better that this Ed Brayton quote from FB:
A Chinese scientist is making CRISPR babies. As an atheist BBQ guy, I know that this is totally unnecessary. You can make a baby CRISPR by drying out the skin and applying a coat of olive oil before roasting it. The Chinese invented Peking Duck, they should know this.


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A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget. ...more →

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3 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday for 12/4

  1. The stellarator design required magnets that 20 years ago, just simply were beyond anyone’s or even computer’s ability to design and manufacture. Not so today thanks to advancements in super computers and computer controlled mfg. This device’s design (but certainly not this device) is very likely a viable approach to successful fusion in the near future. Unlike the Tokamak’s ( which are pulsed and very costly – esp. ITER which is still doubling in cost every time one reads about its construction and primary device itself hasn’t even been built) this stellarator can run continuously and apparently, can be mfg within estimated costs!

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      • My understanding is that this a triumph for large-scale computing — an almost unbelievable number of processor hours to get to a working design.

        Dennis’s remark about ITER’s costs doubling regularly is only part of that story. It seems that every time I read about ITER there’s been another schedule slip — first plasma has been pushed off to 2025 and full power operation to 2035. Actual operation of the follow-on DEMO project, which will generate useful amounts of excess electricity, is sliding towards 2050. Well, maybe. The latest estimates I’ve seen are that DEMO itself will consume something over 500 MW of power during normal operation. At least one systems engineering overview suggests that the enormous power requirements needed to get a DEMO-like plant from idle to full operation impose significant limits on where the plants can be located.

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