Category Archives: Other Stuff

Technology and Value of the American Worker

A very sobering post for which neither the left nor the right have the answer. The author compares Kodak which 20 years ago was a blue chip company to Facebook.

“…At its height, Kodak employed 150,000 people— 60,000 in Rochester alone.

In 1997, Eastman Kodak’s stock price hit an all-time high of $94.75 as the company’s market value soared to $30 Billion. In 2012 when the company filed for bankruptcy, the stock was worth just 78 cents, the company just $145 million.

It was one half of one percent of its value 15 years earlier….. Every day, Facebook users post about 1.5 times more photos than the total photos taken by mankind in a day during the height Kodak’s profitability in 1997. In the world of storing and sharing imagery, things are better now. It’s not close. Nor debatable.” 

The American worker is more productive than ever. But with changing technology, much of that doesn’t matter.

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Anonymity, and That

By lex, on October 13th, 2010

So, persistent readers will remember that some months back your humble scribe was approached by a member of the mainstream media looking to investigate the phenomenon of pseudonymous and anonymous blogging. To report on it, like.

If that article ever got published, I never got wind of it. For I’m a little bit afraid that I could not support the theme he was wishing to frame. Being that I don’t much believe in the potential of real anonymity on the web, discerning the identity of a blogger being but a trivial thing for those with even a moderate degree of technological acumen and the proper degree of obsessive/compulsive tenacity. Not to mention that the title bar logos are as much as a bread crumb trail to them such as knows, and of a certain age.

Which anyway, your host adopted his moniker on a whim whilst still on active duty and clad his identity in only a gossamer weave of inconspicuousness. The idea being that while there wasn’t much could be done to a terminal grade captain who knew how to stay just within the buoys, there was no sense burdening his respected seniors with any class of responsibility for these his fissiparous scribblings: Plausible deniability, and so on.

But only barely.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Other Stuff

There’s First Class… and Then There’s This

Part of a post I put up at EIP this morning:

An altogether different flying experience… which would be a suite at 30K feet.  A couple o’ screen caps from a VERY interesting article:

 

This piece might be the most extensively-documented photographic essay I’ve ever seen, on any subject.  See “What It’s Like to Fly the $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suites Class” here.  It’s simply freaking amazing; the food alone might be worth the ticket price.

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Cutaway Thursday: Tyrrell P34

It doesn’t have to be an airplane does it? Nope (Imma hired gun pen here so I’m generously provided with a LOT of rope with which to hang myself latitude).

Probably one of my favorite F1 cars aside from Senna’s legandary and 1988 season dominating McClaren MP4/4 and the technologically revolutionary Williams FW15C.

More on the Tyrrell P34 from Wikipedia:

When unveiled, the cover was peeled away from the back forward and the collective gasps from the world’s press said it all. Along with theBrabham BT46B “Fancar” developed in 1978, the six-wheeled Tyrrell was one of the two most radical entries ever to succeed in Formula One (F1) competition, and has specifically been called the most recognizable design in the history of world motorsports.[1]

It first ran in the Spanish GP in 1976, and proved to be very competitive. Both Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler were able to produce solid results with the car, but while Depailler praised the car continually, Scheckter realised it would only be temporarily competitive. The specialGoodyear tyres were not being developed enough by the end of the season.

The P34’s golden moment came in the Swedish Grand Prix. Scheckter and Depailler finished first and second, and to date Scheckter is the only driver ever to win a race in a six-wheeled car. He left the team at the end of the season, insisting that the six-wheeler was “a piece of junk!”[2]

For 1977, Scheckter was replaced by the Swede Ronnie Peterson, and the P34 was redesigned around cleaner aerodynamics. The P34B was wider and heavier than before, and, although Peterson was able to string some promising results from the P34B, as was Depailler, it was clear the car was not as good as before, mostly due to the tyre manufacturer’s failure to properly develop the small front tyres. The added weight of the front suspension system is also cited as a reason for ending the project. Tyrrell even tried a “wide track” P34B to improve its handling, but this put the front wheels out from behind the nose fairings and reduced the aerodynamic gains from having four small front wheels. Thus, the P34 was abandoned for 1978, and a truly remarkable chapter in F1 history was over.

More recently the P34 has been a popular sight at historic racing events, proving competitive once more. This was made possible when the Avon tyre company agreed to manufacture bespoke 10-inch tyres for Simon Bull, the owner of chassis No. 6. In 1999 and 2000 the resurrected P34 competed at a number of British and European circuits as an entrant in the FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix series. Driven by Martin Stretton, the car won the TGP series outright in 2000, the sister car repeating that success in 2008 in the hands of Mauro Pane; this example is today part of a private collection in Italy. Stretton also achieved numerous Pole Positions and class wins at the Grand Prix Historique de Monaco. The P34 has also been seen a number of times at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

So here ya go:

TyrrellP34a

An interesting car with a uniquely chequered history but why the 4 front tyres? Let the website for the car, Project-34, tell you:

Derek set to work on designing a car to replace the successful, but rapidly ageing Tyrrell 007. He calculated that they needed the equivalent of a gain of 50hp on the competition in order to leap frog the other teams, since almost everyone was running the same engine the gain would have to be made elsewhere in the design. After a few weeks of research he presented his concept to Ken Tyrrell in August 1974. A concept that drew on the experience of those years spent working on the four wheel drive, Gas-Turbine cars, for there, on the piece of paper presented to Ken was sketched an F1 car with six wheel’s ! Two regular sized wheels at the rear and four small 10″ wheels at the front. Derek explained the reasoning behind his concept to Ken.

The theory was that exposed tyres cause lift, and the bigger they are, the greater the lift they will produce, standard four wheel F1 cars counter act this effect by the use of more wing at the front, since the six wheel concept would greatly reduce the lift effect generated by the front wheels it would not need to run large amounts of front wing thus it should have a straight line speed advantage.

An interesting car with an interesting history and there’s one for sale and if you have to ask for how much, you can’t afford it.

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Filed under Car Pr0n, History, Other Stuff, Outside the Box

Iron Birds

Static test airframes, or more commonly called, “iron birds” are partially built, non-flying airframes or old formerly flying airframes that are used by agencies and manufacterers to test either the strength of than airframe, various design components or aircraft subsystems (avionics, flight control, engines, etc).

The iron birds used for strength testing are typically full scale representations of the aircraft that are rigged to gaint gantry cranes with weights and strain gauges attached. See the pic:

Lockheed's F-35 test airframe installed on gantry cranes with strain gauges.

Lockheed’s F-35 test airframe installed on gantry cranes with strain gauges.

Once installed on the cranes the airframe is literally pulled and pushed to properly simulate all the aerodynamic forces that the aircraft will encounter throughout it’s flying career.  Often the iron birds are tested till destruction.

This is a VC-10 undergoing wing fatigue testing. Note the bending wing.

This is a VC-10 undergoing wing fatigue testing. Note the bending wing.

Some iron birds are formerly flying airframes that have accumulated too many flying hours and are no longer consider safe to fly. These aircraft are typically stripped of most equipment (engines mostly) and used to test various aircraft subsystems in support of other programs.

This NASA's F-8 Crusader iron bird that was used to test software for NASA's Digital Fly-By-Wire program in the 1960s,

This NASA’s F-8 Crusader iron bird that was used to test software for NASA’s Digital Fly-By-Wire program in the 1960s,

 

As the latest example of NASA's iron bird, this is an F/A-18 Hornet used by NASA to support many of the F/A-18 test programs.

As the latest example of NASA’s iron bird, this is an F/A-18 Hornet used by NASA to support many of the F/A-18 test programs.

Iron birds aren’t limited to NASA. The US military also used them for the same purposes.

This B-2 at the National Museum of the USAF was never an actual flying airframe. This "aircraft" appropriately named "Fire and Ice"was used for fatgiue and climatic testing.

This B-2 at the National Museum of the USAF was never an actual flying airframe. This “aircraft” appropriately named “Fire and Ice”was used for fatgiue and climatic testing.

A close up of "Fire and Ice's" nose gear door.

A close up of “Fire and Ice’s” nose gear door.

You can learn more about that particular aircraft here.

As an aside, old airframes are also typically used as maintaince trainers in the military. These are called ground instructional airframes:

images 080613-F-1322C-001

 

 

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Filed under Aeronautical Engineering, Air Force, Airplanes, Flight simulation, Flying, Naval Aviation, Other Stuff, Outside the Box, USAF

Infographic: Maersk Triple-E Class

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The Maersk Triple-E is the newest class of container ships. First built and delivered in 2013 (the first example being named the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller) there are 20 total units planned (as of January this year, there are 7 units) with planned complete production in June 2015.

In the hull, there’s some interesting technology (from Wikipedia):

One of the class’s main design features are the dual 32-megawatt (43,000 hp) ultra-long stroke two-stroke diesel engines, driving two propellers at a design speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). Slower than its predecessors, this class uses a strategy known as slow steaming, which is expected to lower fuel consumption by 37% and carbon dioxide emissions per container by 50%

Maersk Triples-Es are designed to be the world’s most efficient container ships by virtue of their hull and how they’re operated:

Unlike conventional single-engined container ships, the new class of ships has a twin-skeg design: It has twin diesel engines, each driving a separate propeller. Usually, a single engine is more efficient;[10] but using two propellers allows a better distribution of pressure, increasing propeller efficiency more than the disadvantage of using two engines.[19]

The engines have waste heat recovery (WHR) systems; these are also used in 20 other Mærsk vessels including the eight E-class ships. The name “Triple E class” highlights three design principles: “Economy of scale, energy efficient and environmentally improved.[20]

The twin-skeg principle also means that the engines can be lower and further back, allowing more room for cargo. Maersk requires ultra-long stroke two-stroke engines running at 80 rpm (versus 90 rpm in the E class);[21] but this requires more propeller area for the same effect, and such a combination is only possible with two propellers due to the shallow water depth of the desired route.[11][11][22]

A slower speed of 19 knots is targeted as the optimum, compared to the 23–26 knots of similar ships.[11] The top speed would be 25 knots, but steaming at 20 knots would reduce fuel consumption by 37%, and at 17.5 knots fuel consumption would be halved.[23] These slower speeds would add 2–6 days to journey times.[24][25]

The various environmental features are expected to cost $30 million per ship, of which the WHR is to cost $10 million.[10]Carbon dioxideemissions, per container, are expected to be 50% lower than emissions by typical ships on the Asia-Europe route[26] and 20% lower than Emma Maersk.[27] These are the most efficient containerships in the world, per TEU. A Cradle-to-cradle design principle was used to improve scrapping when the ships end their life.[28]

As noted in the infographic the transit from the China to Europe takes 20 days. Maersk is hoping the increased fuel efficiency will offset the increased transit times.

You can learn more at Maersk’s Flickr site and at the Triple-E’s website.

It’s going to be interesting to see how these vessels will change the current maritime security environment.

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Warbird Restoration

There’s a great article about restoring old warbirds in this month’s issue of Air Force Magazine.  Here are the lede grafs and a screen-shot of one of the article’s accompanying pics:

AK295

The scarcity of some World War II airframes today drives a small industry that can take what can only be described as airplane DNA and deliver a restored, flying aircraft. Restoration technology now makes it feasible to resurrect historic aircraft from little more than dented scraps of metal.

A striking example of this artistry is one Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk that survived a crash landing in 1942 to emerge as an award-winning restoration indistinguishable from the day it rolled off the Curtiss assembly line in 1941. The restoration shunned the iconic, but now ubiquitous, “Flying Tiger” shark’s mouth paint scheme to create instead a rugged-looking US Army Air Corps fighter of the type that rose to meet Japanese warplanes over Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Tomahawk’s odyssey began when it was earmarked for the British Royal Air Force and then transferred to the Soviet Union in December 1941. Identified with the RAF number AK295, it was technically a Tomahawk IIB—essentially equivalent to the USAAC’s P-40C.

The text version of the article is here but I recommend reading the PDF version for the photos.

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