Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Martian Terraforming

Projected Mars Terraforming Stages

Projected Mars Terraforming Stages

The three covers of the Mars Trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars

The Sunset on Mars

The Ragged Landscape of Mars

Martian Research Station

Martian Tent City

The interests of the Mars Society—an organization with the overarching goal of colonizing Mars—tend to elicit snickers from non-space fans. Why talk about building homes on Mars when we have problems on Earth like war, bird flu, AIDS and global warming? To the Mars enthusiast, these scourges simply count among the reasons to ditch this rock and head for the Red Planet.

Robert Zubrin, the founder of the Mars Society, likes to point out that Columbus encountered similar resistance from noobs when he pointed across the Atlantic. But Zubrin isn’t a seafarer—he's a scientist, with calculations that say people could create an oxygen atmosphere on Mars in just over 1,000 years. Compare that with other scientists’ predictions of 20,000 or 100,000 years, and he might seem like he's peddling interplanetary snake oil, but there’s no denying that his scheme for “terraforming” is thoroughly conceived.

Click here for an illustrated guide to Zubrin’s six-step plan for inhabiting Mars.

Check out the article at Popular Science.

I like Zubrin's ideas and I'm all for the future efforts to colonize and terraform Mars. In fact, I'd love to visit the red planet one day... I don't know about living there, but at least an extended vacation.

Well, we're definitely headed in the right direction. With NASA's recent announcement of a Permanent Moon Base, we'll have a great place to stage Mars missions from! Hopefully Mars Bases and terraforming will progress quickly from there.

The very idea of terraforming is fascinating! Check out the Terraforming Wiki Page for an interesting read, cool pics and other links.

If this is a subject that interests you, I highly recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy - consisting of Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. In this awesome work of science fiction, Robinson delves into the technological, social and political aspects in a realistic future of Martian colonization and terraforming. You'll find no light-sabres or warp drives in these books... just down-to-earth, well-written sci-fi!!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hypersonic Cruise Missile?

Attack anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

But is America's New Global Strike Weapon
a critical new method for hitting elusive targets,
or a good way to set off a nuclear war?
X-51 Hypersonic Cruise Missile

Ohio Class Missile Submarines will fire the X-51 Cruise Missile

The B-52 Stratofortress will fire the X-51 Cruise Missile

X-51 Hypersonic Cruise Missile deployment strategy

X-51 Hypersonic Cruise Missile deployment strategy

A tip sets the plan in motion — a whispered warning of a North Korean nuclear launch, or of a shipment of biotoxins bound for a Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon. Word races through the American intelligence network until it reaches U.S. Strategic Command headquarters, the Pentagon and, eventually, the White House. In the Pacific, a nuclear-powered Ohio class submarine surfaces, ready for the president's command to launch.

When the order comes, the sub shoots a 65-ton Trident II ballistic missile into the sky. Within 2 minutes, the missile is traveling at more than 20,000 ft. per second. Up and over the oceans and out of the atmosphere it soars for thousands of miles. At the top of its parabola, hanging in space, the Trident's four warheads separate and begin their screaming descent down toward the planet. Traveling as fast as 13,000 mph, the warheads are filled with scored tungsten rods with twice the strength of steel. Just above the target, the warheads detonate, showering the area with thousands of rods-each one up to 12 times as destructive as a .50-caliber bullet. Anything within 3000 sq. ft. of this whirling, metallic storm is obliterated.

If Pentagon strategists get their way, there will be no place on the planet to hide from such an assault. The plan is part of a program — in slow development since the 1990s, and now quickly coalescing in military circles — called Prompt Global Strike. It will begin with modified Tridents. But eventually, Prompt Global Strike could encompass new generations of aircraft and armaments five times faster than anything in the current American arsenal. One candidate: the X-51 hypersonic cruise missile, which is designed to hit Mach 5 — roughly 3600 mph. The goal, according to the U.S. Strategic Command's deputy commander Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, is "to strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes."

The question is whether such an attack can be deployed without triggering World War III: Those tungsten-armed Tridents look, and fly, exactly like the deadliest weapons in the American nuclear arsenal.

Check out the article at Popular Mechanics.

I think it's very important for America to have far-reaching non-nuclear weapons technology. Currently, our best weapons (nukes) are total overkill... especially in the War on Terror. I'm all for this new technology... we just have to figure out this little problem of potentially setting off WWIII.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2007

Spanish Town Mardi Gras Theme 2007
There are going to be a lot of floats
featuring jolly old St. "Money-Bags" Nick

This year's Spanish Town theme will include many a likeness of Nick Saban

RUN Saban RUN!

Nick Saban PhotoshopNick Saban Photoshop

This year's Spanish Town theme will include many a likeness of Nick Saban

It's time once again to roll out the pink carpet for the Baton Rouge Spanish Town parade!

Although the theme is wide open this year, one thing is for certain... we will be seeing a lot of Nick Saban! His face will be plastered on the side of many a float, in many tasteless ways!

I can't wait!!!

Check out the Spanish Town Mardi Gras website.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Remote Controlled Warfare!

Predator B - MQ-9 Reaper hunter/killer UAV

Predator B - MQ-9 Reaper nails targets with Hellfire Missiles

Predator UAV diagram

Predator UAV control station

Predator B - MQ-9 Reaper hunter/killer UAV

Military commanders use tactics and strategy in combat to inflict as much damage on the enemy while trying to risk as few personnel and resources as possible. This principle was at the heart of the development of the RQ-1 and MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

These high-tech aircraft, controlled by a crew miles away from the dangers of combat, are capable of reconnaissance, combat and support roles in the hairiest of battles. In a worst-case scenario, if a Predator is lost in battle, military personal can simply "crack another one out of the box" and have it up in the air shortly -- and that's without the trauma of casualties or prisoners normally associated with an aircraft going down.

In May 1998 General Atomics was awarded a Block 1 Upgrade contract to expand the capabilities of the Predator system. System upgrades include development of an improved Relief-On-Station (ROS) system which allows continuous coverage over areas of interest without any loss of time on station, secure air traffic control voice relay, Ku-band satellite tuning and implementation of an Air Force Mission Support System (AFMSS).

The upgrade also covers a more powerful turbocharged engine and wing de-icing systems to enable year-round operations. The upgraded Predator, the MQ-9 Reaper Hunter/Killer, has been operational in the Balkans since April 2001. In March 2005, the USAF awarded a further contract for the System Design & Development (SDD) of MQ-9. 15 MQ-9 have been ordered and eight delivered to the USAF. A decision on full-rate production is expected in 2009.

The Predator B has an operational ceiling of 50,000ft and maximum internal payload of 800lb and external payload over 3,000lb. Predator B (MQ-9 Reaper hunter/killer) has been flight tested with Hellfire II anti-armour missiles and can carry up to 14 missiles. The MQ-9 will also be able to deploy the GBU-12 and EGBU-12 bombs and 500lb GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). MQ-9 flight trials have also taken place with the General Atomics Lynx SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) payload. Lynx also features ground moving target indicator technology. The Predator is to be flight tested with a L-3 Communications Tactical Common Datalink (TCDL).

The UAV ground control station is built into a single 30ft trailer, containing pilot and payload operator consoles, three Boeing data exploitation and mission planning consoles and two synthetic aperture radar workstations together with satellite and line-of-sight ground data terminals. The mission can be controlled through line-of-site data links or through Ku-band satellite links to produce continuous video.

The USAF has also ordered two versions of Predator B with turbofan jet engines, to be known as Predator C. First flight of the Predator C is expected in early 2007.

Check out the article at

Check out the article at Airforce Technology.

I bet it would be really cool to fly one of these! It couldn't be any tougher than the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator game, right? I'm waiting for a civilian model that can be flown from your home computer!

If you think this is cool... just wait until you see the Predator's little brother, the Dominator (which is smaller, more expendable, and travels in groups of 100) and the concept for the new UCAV!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Geaux Saints!

Geaux Saints!

Saints fans lining up at the gate for the big game!

Saintsational!Sean Peyton for President!

After a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, the New Orleans Saints (11-6) go on the road to take on the Chicago Bears (14-3) in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field this Sunday. It marks the first time in franchise history that the Saints have advanced to the conference championship and will play for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.

The Saints defeated the Eagles, 27-24, at the Louisiana Superdome last Saturday. RB Deuce McAllister, the club's all-time leading rusher, had perhaps the finest day of his storied career in New Orleans, running for 143 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown and adding four receptions for 20 yards and another TD.

He carried several defenders into the end zone in the third quarter on a five-yard burst, eventually crossing the goal line without his helmet. The two touchdowns gave McAllister, a six year veteran, 50 for his career. McAllister was the leader of a rushing attack that set a club playoff record with 208 yards against a stout Philadelphia defense.

Rookie sensation RB Reggie Bush had 52 yards on 12 carries and a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Bush, who set an NFL rookie record with 88 receptions in the regular season, added three catches for 22 yards and also returned a trio of punts for 21 yards.

QB Drew Brees, who threw for over 300 yards eight times in 2006 and led the NFL with a team-record 4,418 passing yards, completed 20 of 32 for 243 yards against the Eagles. His passer rating of 96.2 marked the 13th contest of the season where he posted an efficiency of 90.0 or better.

While the efforts of Brees, McAllister, Bush, rookie wide receiver Marques Colston and the rest of what was the NFL's No. 1 ranked offense in the regular season have been well documented throughout 2006, the defense quietly had another strong outing against the Eagles.

The unit stiffened when it mattered most, holding Philadelphia to only three points in the fourth quarter. The Eagles' first march of the final quarter stalled at the New Orleans 4 and they settled for a field goal. Philadelphia's next two drives went three-and-out, including a key possession where the Eagles were forced to punt with 1:56 remaining in the contest after recovering a fumble near midfield. After three rugged runs by McAllister for a first down, Philadelphia would not get the ball back.

Chicago also enters Sunday's contest following a 27-24 win, an overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field. K Robbie Gould, who defeated the Saints with a last-second kick in 2005, drilled a 49-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Bears into the NFC Championship Game vs. New Orleans.

The Saints and Bears have played 22 times in the regular season, with the series tied at 11- 11. The two clubs have also met once in the postseason, a Wild Card Playoff at Soldier Field in 1990 that was a 16-6 victory for Chicago.

Check out the Official New Orleans Saints website.

It's going to be cold in Chicago this weekend, but it'll be even colder in hell if we can win the Super Bowl!

Geaux Saints!

UPDATE: 1/22/07
The Saints lost to the Bears yesterday. Oh well, I'll be rooting for them next year...

Thanks for a memorable season, Saints...
the closest we've ever come to a Super Bowl!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Space Slingshot?

Forget rockets!
All you need to launch a satellite is
a sled and a giant magnetic slingshot

Concept Art of the Magnetic Space Slingshot

Magnetic Space Slingshot Schematic

Astronauts are trained to withstand as much as nine times the force of gravity. (Three Gs, by comparison, could make the average guy pass out.) But even the toughest among them fall out of the running when it comes to a launch concept from a small civilian company in Goleta, California. To survive the ride on Launchpoint Technologies’s invention, the payload has to be able to survive a brain-splattering 10,000 Gs.

The design calls for a high-speed accelerator that whips a projectile as heavy as 220 pounds around a circular 1.5-mile-radius vacuum tunnel. Powerful electromagnetic motors inside the tunnel will accelerate the unit, strapped to a magnetic sled, in circles until it reaches a velocity of six miles per second and then will eject the projectile from a launch ramp into space.

The system is still just an idea on paper, but the U.S. Air Force has awarded Launchpoint a two-year, $500,000 grant to prove it can work. Project leader Jim Fiske, an expert in magnetic levitation, believes that the magnetic forces would counteract the pulverizing G-forces generated by radial acceleration and prevent the sled from touching the tunnel wall.

As for the system’s cost, its low power requirements would allow spy micro-satellites to be slung into orbit for $50,000, a small fraction of the current $5-million launch cost. That explains the Air Force’s interest, but the system could also be a boon for space exploration. An inexpensive magnet-propelled pipeline could toss construction materials, food and other basic resources into orbit to supply tomorrow’s space colonies. “You could send a block of aluminum, water or even frozen mashed potatoes,” Fiske suggests—anything durable enough to handle the stress.

Fiske says a demonstration device could be ready in four years and will probably be located on a dry lake bed at the Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site. But future launch rings, he adds, could sit near mountain ranges or even float on the ocean.

How it Works

The Sled: The projectile is encased in a protective polycarbonate sabot and attached to a magnetic sled with a Kevlar sheet. When the sled reaches launch speed, a laser slices through the sheet, freeing the projectile to enter the launch ramp.

The Launch: The projectile contains a small rocket engine and avionics that enable it to steer itself into orbit once it escapes Earth’s atmosphere.

The Track: Magnetic motors above and below the vacuum tube create a magnetic field that accelerates the sled to six miles per second.

Check out the article at Popular Science.

What an interesting design concept! If this can be perfected, imagine the amusement park rides of the future!

Not to mention, the amount of money NASA and the Air Force could save and apply to the Moon outpost and Mars missions. I hope they can make it work!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Welcome to the SEC, Buckeyes!

The Florida Gators brought the National Championship home to the SEC!

Earl Everett tackles Heisman winner Troy Smith after losing his helmetChris Leak hoists the Crystal Football!

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Not even close. Florida - yes Florida - owned the field it wasn't supposed to be on, embarrassing Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and No. 1 Ohio State 41-14 on Monday night to run away with the national championship. Chris Leak and Tim Tebow showed off coach Urban Meyer's twin quarterback system to perfection as the No. 2 Gators became the first Division I school to hold football and basketball titles at the same time.

Florida embarrassed Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and No. 1 Ohio State 41-14 on Monday night to run away with the college football national championship.

Chris Leak and Tim Tebow showed off coach Urban Meyer's twin quarterback system to perfection as the No. 2 Gators became the first Division I school to hold football and basketball titles at the same time.

"I'm not surprised at all. Nobody never gave us a chance at all," Florida receiver Dallas Baker said. "We came here with a chip on our shoulder and something to prove. Nobody gave us a chance, but finally we can throw up the No. 1."

Troy Smith, meanwhile, joined a long list of Heisman Trophy quarterbacks - Jason White, Eric Crouch and Gino Torretta, among them - to fall apart in bowl games. He was just 4-for-14 with one interception and never showed off his elusive running.

"Not everything in life is going to go the exact way you want it," Smith said. "I don't have any regrets, though. I really don't. We came out and fought. We came up short.

Defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss made it a miserable night for Smith. Linebacker Earl Everett got into the act, too, running down Smith despite missing his helmet.

"Honestly, we've played a lot better teams than them," Moss said. "I could name four or five teams in the SEC that could probably compete with them and play the same type of game we did against them." (LSU)

The National champion - SEC champion Gators were joined in the Top 25 by five other league rivals. No other conference finished with more in the top 25.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Well, well, well... another SEC blowout in the BCS. In fact, the identical score to LSU's dominating win in the sugar: 41-14. Maybe some of these "top 25 teams" should include an SEC team or two on their regular-season schedule... they need the practice against us!

Seriously, it's time that the SEC gets some respect... it's the dominating conference in college sports. Oh sure, other strong teams emerge on a yearly basis; USC, Texas, Ohio State... but no conference in the country can boast the same number of teams dominating college football these days. Just look at the numbers - the SEC finished with 6 teams in the Top 25, 3 of those in the Top 10!

The BCS needs a major overhaul. We have to get to a playoff system... a system where the National Championship game isn't over in the first half.

The Top 5 rounded out at:
#1 - Florida Gators (SEC)
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten)
#3 - LSU Tigers (SEC)
#4 - USC Trojans (Pac-10)
#5 - Boise State Broncos (WAC)

Check out the AP Poll article at Fox Sports.

On another note, LSU Junior Quarterback Jamarcus Russell will be signing up for the NFL draft. He will definitely be in the first round, maybe even the #1 pick! Good for him, the man is on fire! Here's to a successful NFL career and yet another LSU player in the NFL ranks.

Check out my 2007 Sugar Bowl post: SWEET Domination!.

Follow all of the LSU Sports action at LSU Sports.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sweet Domination!

LSU Tigers celebrating their 2007 Sugar Bowl Victory!

LSU dominated the 2007 Allstate Sugar Bowl!

The Golden Band from Tiger Land!

2007 Sugar Bowl MVP Jamarcus Russell punching it through!

The Louisiana Superdome - the LSU Tigers' home away from home!

NEW ORLEANS — The luck of the Irish didn’t just run dry; it was annihilated. After the Bayou Bengals steamrolled the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish 41-14 at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Wednesday night, the Tiger faithful decidedly did not exit the Louisiana Superdome quietly, nor did they do so humbly.

While the Irish fans walked out as mourners, LSU devotees marched out as if part of a second line. As chants of “LSU” and “Tiger Bait” filled the Superdome, a few fans summed up the game in their own Tiger-striped point of view.

“Great win,” said a noticeably hoarse LSU fan from Hammond. “We knew the Tigers were going to do it. Notre Dame played nobody all season.”

As it turns out, a supposedly slow Notre Dame football team can run after all. The Irish just couldn’t do it, or much of anything else, in the second half of the Sugar Bowl, when LSU largely and expertly kept the ball out of Notre Dame hands.

The Tigers flat-out ran the Irish out of the building Wednesday, owning the third quarter, then the entire second half, then the 2007 Sugar Bowl and all of its hardware on this night in LSU’s home-away-from-home Louisiana Superdome.

JaMarcus Russell, the unanimous choice for the game’s Most Outstanding Player, threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to lead the Tigers to a 41-14 victory over Notre Dame.

“He was on top of his game tonight,” LSU receiver Craig Davis said. “Very sharp.”

LSU, which finished with an 11-2 record for the second consecutive year, closed with a seven-game winning streak. Notre Dame (10-3) set an NCAA record by stretching its bowl losing streak to nine games.

Russell, who now must decide whether to turn pro or return to LSU for his senior season, removed any doubt of the game’s outcome with 18 seconds left in the third quarter. He gave the Tigers a 34-14 lead with a 58-yard pass to Brandon LaFell, tying LSU’s longest play from scrimmage this season.

Russell left the game just inside 5 minutes left, turning the offense over to backup quarterback Matt Flynn as teammates and fans cheered Russell.

LSU fans in the Poydras Avenue end zone, the home-team end zone, chanted “One more year!”

Russell later said he and his family have a lot to think about.

Davis said Russell’s performance was not one of his best, but he explained why that wasn’t a criticism. “Just average,” Davis said, “but an average game by JaMarcus Russell is better than your usual quarterback.”

Check out the article at The Advocate.

What an exciting game! Of course, it could have been a lot more exciting if we had been playing a higher ranked team. Well, Notre Dame has some talented players and a good football team. They were impressive on occasion during the first half, and there's no doubt in my mind that they had the potential to beat LSU... what they needed was a tougher schedule to prepare them for SEC football.

Seriously, you take most of the top 20 teams and look at their schedule: what a joke! Put those same teams on an SEC schedule, where every game is like a big bowl game, then you'll see where they belong in the rankings.

On another note... I would like to take this opportunity to distinguish between balls and brains: It takes balls to call a fake punt in a big football game, but it takes brains to know when to do it. You most certainly DO NOT call a fake punt on your own 30 yard line on your first possession of the game with 12:00 left in the first quarter. WTF was Charlie Weiss thinking? What a stupid play call!

Congratulations on a spectacular season, Tigers!

Congratulations on a truly awesome college football career, Jamarcus Russell... good luck in the NFL, I'll be rooting for you!

Next year, I'll be happy just as long as you Tigers promise to stick it to Nick Saban's Crimson Tide!

UPDATE 1-9-07: The Top 5 rounded out at:
#1 - Florida Gators (SEC)
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten)
#3 - LSU Tigers (SEC)
#4 - USC Trojans (Pac-10)
#5 - Boise State Broncos (WAC)

Check out the AP Poll article at Fox Sports.

Check out my 2007 National Championship post: Welcome to SEC Football, Buckeyes!.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

New Year fireworks display over Edenburgh, Scotland

Once again, it’s time to bid adieu and usher in another year. I hope this one will be safe and happy for all!