Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Port Hudson National Cemetery
Port Hudson National Cemetery - photo by Renegade

Port Hudson Civil War Battlefield
Port Hudson Civil War Battlefield - photo by Renegade

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Memorial Day is much more than a three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summer. To many people, especially the nation's thousands of combat veterans, this day, which has a history stretching back all the way to the Civil War, is an important reminder of those who died in the service of their country.

Uncover the interesting history of the holiday we now call Memorial Day. Check out the Timeline of America's Wars and the Veterans Forum at The History Channel.

My boy and I went on a Cub Scout outing to the Port Hudson Civil War Battlefield and the Port Hudson National Cemetery. We hiked out to Fort Desperate, toured the museum and watched some live-fire exercises with Civil War cannons, muskets, and pistols. Then we had a picnic lunch and headed for the cemetery.

Every year, the Scouts go out to the cemetery on the Saturday before Memorial Day and put a flag on every one of the graves - which number 11,900. When people come to visit the cemetery on Memorial Day, they are struck with awe at the sea of flags honoring our fallen heroes. Check out the Port Hudson National Cemetery website for more information.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Battle Tested

Iraq Tech Report
Wired War

Talon Bomb-Diffusing Robot

Buffalo Bomb-Clearing Vehicle

M1A2 Abrahms Battle Tank

Apache Longbow Assault Helicopter

M-14 Sniper Rifle

War spurs innovation, and U.S. soldiers are seeing a lot of it. How well is the new equipment performing in Iraq? Launch this slideshow to find out!

Check out the article at Popular Science.

They brought back the classic M-14 rifle and even made it a sniper! It's basically just an M-1 Garand on steroids, and an excellent rifle to shoot... worked pretty well for Pyle in Full Metal Jacket!

With the amazing new battlefield networking technology available to our troops, the commanders have got to be in hog heaven! That innovation alone will save many lives.

I think the soldiers' best friend would have to be the bomb-diffusing robots... the soldiers are actually forming an emotional bond and naming them! Just check out this article at Fox News about one group of soldiers who are mourning the loss of "Scooby Doo," their unit's beloved robot that was blown up on its 36th mission.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Space, The Final Frontier...

Planets Found in Potentially Habitable Setup
HD 69830 Planets

Three medium-sized planets of roughly the same mass as Neptune have been discovered around a nearby Sun-like star, scientists announced today.

The planets were discovered around HD 69830, a star slightly less massive than the Sun located 41 light-years away in the constellation Puppis (the Stern), using the ultra-precise HARPS spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-meter La Silla telescope in Chile.

The finding, detailed in the May 18 issue of the journal Nature, marks a first for astronomers because previously discovered multi-planet solar systems besides our own contain at least one giant, Jupiter-sized planet.

"For the first time, we have discovered a planetary system composed of several Neptune-mass planets," said study team member Christophe Lovis of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland.

The setup is similar to our own solar system in many ways: The outermost planets is located just within the star's habitable zone, where temperatures are moderate enough for liquid water to form, and the system also contains an asteroid belt.

The newly discovered planets have masses of about 10, 12 and 18 times that of Earth and they zip around the star in rapid orbits of about 9, 32 and 197 days, respectively.

Based on their distances from the star, two inner worlds nearest the star are rocky planets similar to Mercury, the scientists suspect. The outermost planet is thought to have a solid core of rock and ice and shrouded by a thick gas envelope.

Recent observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope last year revealed that HD 69830 also hosts an asteroid belt, making it the only other Sun-like star known to have one.

Check out the article at Space.com.

I wonder how long it will be before we have the technology to make the trip and colonize those planets, and others like them. Our planet really is a sitting duck for some random space collision. At least we could lessen the odds of having our entire civilization wiped out with one collision.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sharp Ship!

Take a tour of the Navy's new M80 Stiletto!
M80 Stiletto

Built to deliver and support Navy SEAL operations, this high-tech carbon-fiber craft is both beautiful and deadly smart. Get a closer look at the military's floating feat of engineering in this slideshow at Popular Science.

A dramatic departure from earlier military designs, the M80 Stiletto has the potential both to protect troops in combat and to keep the U.S. homeland safer by allowing a greater number of higher-speed patrols without a negative environmental impact. The M-hull’s inherent properties of bow wave suppression, shock mitigation, high speeds and fuel efficiency – all while retaining safety – make it an ideal solution for future navy ships operating locally and in duty areas around the world.

Check out the M Ship Co. Website for more info.

That's one sharp ship! Check out some of their commercial models!

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Signs...

Bonds reading the sign

That eloquent triptych stretched more than 60 feet along the front row of the left-field seats behind Bonds as he took his place in the field on Sunday night. It is right and fair and necessary to question Bonds. You can say likewise about McGwire and Sosa and Palmeiro and Canseco and their ilk, but they are not passing the Babe and taking dead aim at Hammerin' Hank, which, more than his personality, puts Bonds dead in the crosshairs of such widespread public condemnation. Imagine a highway patrol officer manning a radar gun as car after car zooms past him at more than the 55 mph posted limit, some if only by a handful of miles per hour. And in that traffic is one red Ferrari zipping along at 100 mph. Who is getting pulled over?

The signs, including that one in the left-field seats, were so prevalent in Philadelphia last weekend that Barry Bonds' pursuit of the greatest record in sports has become embarrassing and awkward for baseball. Bonds can have his home runs, his "wiping out" of Babe Ruth, as he promised five years ago, and even The Big One -- the record Hank Aaron has held with 755 career home runs -- but real legitimacy and honor never shall be his. So what then would he really have? The mocking of Bonds and his ill-gotten home run total was so savage I wonder if any such great and accomplished athlete was treated so harshly in his twilight.

In the hallowed company of Ruth and Aaron, Bonds is treated as the punchline to a joke, like the sign in left field that read, "For Sale: Life-Sized Bobblehead. See Leftfield." Or the one in the upper deck with an enormous asterisk-marked head drawn over a small body that read, "Life Size. Shrink This." Or the faux Giants jerseys that say "Cheater" on the front and "Juiced" arched over a No. 25 on the back. Or the people dressed in giant cardboard juice boxes marked "100% Roids." Or the "Got Juice?'' signs. Or the skinny guy with the T-shirt that said "Barry With Pirates" while his buddy, dressed in an inflatable sumo costume, wore one that said "Barry With San Fran." Or the sign that simply said, "Fraud*.' On and on it goes, the majesty of history trumped by lowbrow humor.

Steve Howe took the cocaine association to his grave. Pete Rose will do the same with gambling. Bonds will do the same with steroids.

Check out the article at Sports Illustrated.

What can you say? I feel bad for the man, but as they say: "You do the crime, you do the time!" Roids are bad for you, man... and your baseball career, too!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sugar High!

Launch a Model Rocket with Oreo Cookies!
Sugar Rocket

Food contains an amazing amount of energy. If you don’t believe it, feed candy to some kids and watch them bounce off the walls. Of course, tot-baiting is only one way to turn food energy into noise and destruction.

A king-size Snickers has 541 Calories. That’s Calories with a capital “C,” or 1,000 lowercase calories. A small-“c” calorie represents the energy required to heat one gram of water by one degree Celsius. So that Snickers could theoretically heat a gram of water 541,000 degrees or, more realistically, bring a gallon and a half of water from nearly freezing to nearly boiling.

The energy in food is typically released when, through a complex biochemical pathway, sugars, starches and fats react with oxygen from the lungs. It’s a form of slow-motion burning that, thankfully, rarely involves fire.

But you can liberate the same amount of energy in much less time by mixing the Snickers with a more concentrated source of oxygen—say, the potent oxidizer potassium perchlorate. The result is basically rocket fuel. Ig­nited on an open fireproof table, it burns vigorously, consuming an entire candy bar in a few seconds with a rushing tower of fire. If you could bottle the energy of kids playing and turn it into a Molotov cocktail, this is what it would look like.

Of course, you can’t actually fire a rocket with a Snickers bar; the nuts would clog the nozzle. Oreo cookie filling, however, works very nicely in standard model-rocket engines. (Caution: The Model Rocket Safety Code does not approve of filling rocket motors with highly reactive chlorate-Oreo mixtures.)

Check out the article at Popular Science.

Of course, burning calories can't be that easy when you're on a diet!

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Giant Jellyfish Invade Japan!

Big Ass Jellyfish!

Pitting two hands against thousands of stinging tentacles, a diver attaches a tracking device to a giant Nomura's jellyfish off the coast of Japan on October 4, 2005.

Since last summer, Japanese waters have been inundated with the massive sea creatures, which can grow 6.5 feet (2 meters) wide and weigh up to 450 pounds (220 kilograms).

Though the jellyfish are more common in Chinese and Korean waters, their numbers have grown a hundredfold in some areas off Japan, causing a crisis in the local fishing industry.

The invertebrates are choking fishing nets and poisoning the catch with their toxic stingers, fishers say. And although reports of serious human injury are rare, there are records of people dying from the creature's noxious sting.

The invasion has prompted a series of studies by the Japanese government to research the animal, whose mating and migration habits are poorly understood.

One theory suggests that seas heated by global warming are better suited for breeding, turning the Nomura's otherwise modest numbers into an armada.

As the research continues, Japanese fishers continue to grapple with another issue: What to do with all the jellyfish they've caught? So far, resourceful anglers have turned their unwanted catch into crab food, fertilizer, and novelty snacks—served dried and salted.

Check out the article at National Geographic News.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's getting hot in here...

Hurricane Katrina - NOAA

Water temperatures in areas where hurricanes form in the Atlantic Ocean have warmed up over the past century and human activity could be the reason, scientists report.

To develop into a hurricane, a tropical storm needs its primary fuel — water — to be at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.5 Celsius).

Previous studies suggest that warmer temperatures can fuel stronger storms. Long-term trends show that global ocean surface temperatures have warmed up in the past century, and that this is helping to create stronger hurricanes.

Read the article at Fox News or this article at NOAA

Global Warming is a scary subject and, despite doubts from countless millions, a very real danger to our civilization. Until it is perceived by the masses as a legitimate threat caused by our own actions, we are powerless to protect against the situation worsening.

Finally, scientific studies are being taken more seriously by the mainstream news media, as seen in this article and this article at Fox News. NOW is the time to act to prevent further damage to our fragile global ecosystem... before it's too late.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Warp Speed Ahead!

Warp Speed

In a rush to flee the solar system? Scientists have an interstellar travel plan, but it entails a brief stint outside the known universe.

What is Warp Speed? A spacecraft that travels at faster-than-light speeds by distorting, or “warping,” the fabric of spacetime. Instead of trying to move through space, the warp drive moves space itself. The ship sits inside a bubble of spacetime bound by a negative energy field that races across the cosmos.

1. Fuel Up: Start beyond Earth’s immediate gravitational pull. Convert matter into negative energy (particles with negative mass that are repelled by gravity rather than attracted to it).

2. Curve Spacetime: Emit pulses of negative energy to curve spacetime. Form a sphere around the ship with the energy, insulating passengers in their own private spacetime bubble.

3. Drop Out: The bubble warps spacetime so drastically that it actually slips out of the visible universe. Only a narrow tube of negative energy keeps it tied to our world.

4. Expand Space: Now that the craft is protected in its spacetime bubble, the real work can begin: Expand space behind the bubble at faster-than-light speed, and shrink the space in front.

Read the article at Popular Science

Next Week: "Beam Me Up, Scotty!"

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