Even today it's amazing to me that we live on a paper-thin, barely congealed crust of rock floating on a giant ball of liquid hot magma. And, pieces of crust are slaloming around slamming into each other and diving under under each other all the time, and every now and then a megavolcano pop's its cork. It's a wonder… » 7/31/14 1:47pm Today 1:47pm

Reader's guide for young people: the Ranger program ran from 1959 to 1965. The spacecraft were launched toward the moon and transmitted pictures until they crashed onto the lunar surface. The first six failed on launch, sent no pictures, or missed the moon entirely; Ranger 7 in July 1964 was the first success. Two… » 7/31/14 1:31pm Today 1:31pm

Cool. By 1925 John Logie Baird and others had demonstrated electromechanical television. Futurists of the late '20s were telling everyone that TV was the Next Big Thing™, and popular magazines were full of predictions of home tv just around the corner. Looks like a few retailers jumped the gun just a bit. » 7/31/14 4:12pm Today 4:12pm

Cool. Just so we're all clear, this process takes a lot of energy, 94 kilo-calories per mole of CO2 (about 44 grams), plus any system losses. This energy could come from solar cells, a radio-thermal generator, or some other source. This is similar to the trick plants do with photosynthesis. They use energy from… » 7/31/14 1:48pm Today 1:48pm

Spacecraft control design has gone through a marked evolution. Yuri Gagarin's capsule was fully automated and remote controlled; his controls were locked. Early US Mercury capsules were also highly automated. Gemini gave the pilots more control, and by Apollo designers gave the pilots full control of everything.… » 7/31/14 7:47am Today 7:47am

Laika's flight in Sputnik 2 (November 1957) was groundbreaking; she was the first mammal in orbit. Prior to her flight no one knew if a complex animal could withstand the stresses of launch and orbital insertion, and whether they could could breath, eat and swallow in extended micro-gravity. Sadly she died after about… » 7/30/14 6:27pm Yesterday 6:27pm

One of the main problems any naval fire control computer must solve is the Coriolis Effect. When firing in any direction other than due east or west the earth's rotation causes the shell to follow a curved path relative to the sea surface; essentially the earth turns under the shell while it's in flight. The computer… » 7/30/14 12:35pm Yesterday 12:35pm

Everybody likes a pretty, comfortable car. However, the advancements we actually need are under the hood. We need a gas engine that gets 100 mpg, or a plug-in electric that costs no more than a Camry. Style is nice, but it won't matter when gas costs $30 a gallon. » 7/30/14 11:26am Yesterday 11:26am