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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 128977 times)
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« Reply #5625 on: Nov 30th, 2011, 1:39pm »

Wired

NASA’s Most Adorable Model Spaceships
By Betsy Mason
November 30, 2011 | 6:30 am
Categories: Space


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The list of NASA's accomplishments is long and impressive, which is probably why one of its most remarkable feats is so often overlooked: the extreme cuteness of its scale models.

From lunar landers and rovers to satellites space stations, NASA's engineers built tiny replicas and concept representations that will melt your heart. Here are some of our favorites.

Above:

Apollo Lunar Lander 1963

The design for the Apollo lunar excursion module went through several stages, some cuter than others. The image above shows the lander at peak cuteness. Even without the miniature astronaut, fake moon rock and starry sky, this scale model would elicit motherly coos from space geeks. This concept was known as a "bug."

Gallery after the jump
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/11/adorable-model-spaceships/

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« Reply #5626 on: Nov 30th, 2011, 1:51pm »

Scientific American

Shape-Shifting Robot Shows Some Spine [Video]

Robots modeled after invertebrate squid, starfish and worms mimic natural movement without the need for complex and expensive mechanical components and assembly

By Larry Greenemeier
November 30, 2011





The notion that robots must be rigid metallic automatons made mobile by wheels, tracks or even legs has constrained the imagination of their designers. The weight of all those rods, gears and motors quickly adds up, and complex mechanical and electrical control systems are needed for robots to handle delicate objects or navigate across different types of terrain.

A team of researchers, including Harvard University chemist and materials scientist George Whitesides and Robert Shepherd, a postdoctoral fellow at Whitesides's lab, has eschewed this vertebrate-inspired approach in favor of a softer touch. Modeling their work on vastly more flexible, invertebrate squid, starfish and worms, Whitesides and his colleagues, earlier this week, reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that a combination of elastic polymers and pneumatic pumps has supplied the parts list for a simple robot capable of complex motion.

How complex? Their five-centimeter-thick quadruped was able to crawl and undulate its way through a space just two centimeters high. (The researchers actually executed limbolike moves to navigate their bot underneath a glass plate elevated two centimeters above the ground.) The robot, which looks like a pair of Ys joined at the stem, was made using soft lithography in two layers. Soft lithography is an approach to fabricating objects that uses a patterned elastomer as the stamp, mold or mask, as opposed to the more rigid materials used in photolithography.

The most significant breakthrough demonstrated by this flexible robot is that soft materials can provide a solution to natural movement without the need for complex mechanical components and assembly. It also demonstrates the value of considering simple animals when looking for inspiration for robots and machines, the researchers say.

The shape-shifting robot's upper, flexible layer comes embedded with a system of pneumatic channels through which air could pass. The lower one was made of a much more rigid polymer. The researchers placed the actuating layer onto the strain limiting/sealing layer with a thin coating of silicone adhesive. Air pumped into different valves in the upper layer caused them to inflate and bend the robot into different positions. For example, the robot could lift any one of its four legs off the ground and leave the other three legs planted to provide stability, depending on which channels were inflated.

The researchers are now exploring a variety of methods to design and make such robots autonomous. Onboard condensed-air cylinders and micro compressors are one route. "We will probably need to scale up the size of the robots a bit to support their load," says Whitesides, who is a member of Scientific American's board of advisors . "Additionally, our current tethered, soft robots can be coupled with hard robot systems to transport them to a location and support the load of the offboard cylinders and compressors."

In many applications, tethers are not a disadvantage, and in others, they are desirable or even required, the researchers say. "Remember, most robots—for example, those used in manufacturing—are fixed in place," Whitesides says, adding that autonomous movement is required for only certain tasks.

The researchers acknowledge that simple, inexpensive robots will probably not replace their more costly counterparts, but they could still have multiple uses. Robot-assisted mine rescues offer one possibility. In these, bots carrying cameras trek down narrow-diameter pipes hundreds of meters underground to search for survivors. Such robots are currently made mostly of metal and often become trapped in boreholes when cave-in aftershocks cause the ground to shift.

A potential disadvantage to these Gumbybots is that softer and more pliable material may rupture when moved across rough or sharp surfaces. Still, the researchers say that with the right mix of toughness and flexibility, they can develop robots that are cheaper to produce, lighter, able to be made big or small and much simpler to operate than their hard-metal brethren.

Advances in materials—polymers, in particular—will impact the development of soft robots by enabling them to operate in a higher pressure range, the researchers say. "We would also like elastomers that are tough, in the sense of being resistant to damage by cutting or puncture," Whitesides adds. "The area of soft robotics will provide many interesting problems for polymer scientists and materials scientists to work on."

Advances in artificial muscles would likewise assist in making these pliable robots more compact and provide more reproducible movement. "It would also allow us to mimic some of the very intricate designs to arms, tentacles or other structures directly," Whitesides says.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=shape-shifting-robot-shows-spine

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« Reply #5627 on: Nov 30th, 2011, 4:34pm »

Forbes.com

One Giant Step


James M. Clash,

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Joe Kittinger is not a household aviation name like Neil Armstrong or Chuck Yeager. But what he did for the U. S. space program is comparable.

On Aug. 16, 1960, as research for the then-fledgling U. S. space program, Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger rode a helium balloon to the edge of space, 102,800 feet above the Earth, a feat in itself.

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Then, wearing just a thin pressure suit and breathing supplemental oxygen, he leaned over the cramped confines of his gondola and jumped into the 110-degree-below zero, near vacuum of space. Within seconds his body accelerated to 714mph in the thin air, breaking the sound barrier.

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After free-falling for more than four and a half minutes, slowed finally by friction from the heavier air below, he felt his parachute open at 14,000 feet, and he coasted gently down to the New Mexico desert floor. Kittinger's feat showed scientists that astronauts could survive the harshness of space with just a pressure suit and that man could eject from aircraft at extreme altitudes and survive.

Upon Kittinger's return to base, a congratulatory telegram was waiting from the Mercury seven astronauts--including Alan Shepard and John Glenn. More than five decades later Kittinger's two world records -- the highest parachute jump, and the only man to break the sound barrier without an aircraft and live, still stand. Back in 2003, we decided to visit the retired colonel and Aviation Hall of Famer, then 75, at his home in Altamonte Springs, Florida, to recall his historic jump.

FORBES GLOBAL: Take us back to New Mexico and Aug. 16, 1960.

Joe Kittinger: We got up at 2 a. m. to start filling the helium balloon. At sea level, it was 35 to 40 feet wide and 200 feet high; at altitude, due to the low air pressure, it expanded to 25 stories in width, and still was 20 stories high!

At 4 a. m. I began breathing pure oxygen for two hours. That's how long it takes to remove all the nitrogen from your blood so you don't get the bends going so high so fast.

Then it was a lengthy dress procedure layering warm clothing under my pressure suit. They kept me in air-conditioning until it was time to launch because we were in the desert and I wasn't supposed to sweat. If I did, my clothes would freeze on the way up.

FG: How was your ascent?

Joe: It took an hour and a half to get to altitude. It was cold. At 40,000 feet, the glove on my right hand hadn't inflated. I knew that if I radioed my doctor, he would abort the flight. If that happened, I knew I might never get another chance because there were lots of people who didn’t want this test to happen.

I took a calculated risk, that I might lose use of my right hand. It quickly swelled up, and I did lose use for the duration of the flight. But the rest of the pressure suit worked.

When I reached 102,800 feet, maximum altitude, I wasn't quite over the target. So I drifted for 11 minutes. The winds were out of the east.

FG: What's it look like from so high up?

Joe: You can see about 400 miles in every direction. The formula is 1.25 x the sq. root of the altitude in thousands of feet. (The square root of 102,000 ft is 319 X 1.25 = 399 miles). The most fascinating thing is that it's just black overhead -- the transition from normal blue to black is very stark.

You can't see stars because there's a lot of glare from the sun, so your pupils are too small. I was struck with the beauty of it. But I was also struck by how hostile it is: more than 100 degrees below zero, no air. If my protection suit failed, I would be dead in a few seconds. Blood actually boils above 62,000 feet.

I went through my 46-step checklist, disconnected from the balloon’s power supply and lost all communication with the ground. I was totally under power from the kit on my back. When everything was done, I stood up, turned around to the door, took one final look out and said a silent prayer: "Lord, take care of me now." Then I just jumped over the side.

FG: What were you thinking as you took that step?

Joe: It's the beginning of a test. I had gone through simulations many times -- more than 100. I rolled over and looked up, and there was the balloon just roaring into space. I realized that the balloon wasn't roaring into space; I was going down at a fantastic rate! At about 90,000 feet, I reached 714 mph.

The altimeter on my wrist was unwinding very rapidly. But there was no sense of speed. Where you determine speed is visual -- if you see something go flashing by. But nothing flashes by 20 miles up -- there are no signposts there, and you are way above any clouds. When the chute opened, the rest of the jump was anticlimactic because everything had worked perfectly. I landed 12 or 13 minutes later, and there was my crew waiting. We were elated.

FG: How about your right hand?
Joe: It hurt -- there was quite a bit of swelling and the blood pressure in my arm was high. But that went away in a few days, and I regained full use of my hand.

FG: What about attempts to break your record?

Joe: We did it for air crews and astronauts -- for the learning, not to set a record.

They will be going up as skydivers. Somebody will beat it someday. Records are made to be broken. And I'll be elated. But I'll also be concerned that they’re properly trained. If they're not, they're taking a heck of a risk.

http://www.forbes.com/global/2003/1208/060.html
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« Reply #5628 on: Nov 30th, 2011, 5:25pm »

"FG: What about attempts to break your record?

Joe: We did it for air crews and astronauts -- for the learning, not to set a record.

They will be going up as skydivers. Somebody will beat it someday. Records are made to be broken. And I'll be elated. But I'll also be concerned that they’re properly trained. If they're not, they're taking a heck of a risk.

http://www.forbes.com/global/2003/1208/060.html
"



Hey Swamprat, cheesy

Great article. I saw something about this on the Discovery channel, wish I could remember the name of the program. I was astounded that this man had the GIANT cojones to do this! shocked

GIANT!!!

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« Reply #5629 on: Nov 30th, 2011, 5:31pm »

Time Science

Space

Anyone Out There? A New Way to Look for Alien Life

By Michael D. Lemonick
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011

Thanks largely to the Kepler space telescope, astronomers have discovered more than 2,000 planets orbiting distant stars — not half bad considering that until recently we knew of only eight planets in the entire universe, all of them in the immediate neighborhood. The point of Kepler isn't simply to rack up numbers, though: the ultimate goal is to find worlds similar to Earth — places where there's a chance that alien life might have taken hold. Those planets could then get a closer look as a new, more powerful generation of telescopes comes on line.

But the search for life across interstellar space will still not be easy, and even the most advanced telescope on the drawing boards will have to work hard to suss it out, so it will be key to choose the best possible targets. That's the reasoning behind a new paper in the journal Astrobiology in which environmental scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, of Washington State University, along with nine other colleagues, has proposed a new planet-classification scheme to make the sifting process easier.

Actually, they've proposed two schemes, designed to let observers slice their searches in two different ways. The first and crudest of their methods is something they call the Earth Similarity Index, or ESI. That's just what it sounds like: it's a measure of how closely an alien world matches Earth in terms of size and temperature. The temperature is important because biologists say liquid water is an essential ingredient for life as we know it: nutrients can dissolve easily in water in order to circulate to every part of an organism. Blood, after all, is essentially just water with stuff dissolved in it.

The size of the planet, meanwhile, is important because ... well, actually, it's not clear why. It's true that if a planet is too small, like Mars, it might not have enough gravity to hold on to its atmosphere. Mars itself once did have a blanket of air, but it was probably blasted away by barrages of incoming asteroids billions of years ago. And if the planet is too big, gravity might have pulled in too much of an atmosphere, which would create crushing pressure at the surface. A world four or five times as massive as Earth might well be habitable, but anything bigger than that could cause problems. Still, since Earth is the only place we know harbors life, the ESI favors planets as much like ours as possible.

The caveat here, of course, is that we're still talking about life as we know it — which is usually how these discussions are framed. But that rather cramped standard, says Schulze-Makuch, "runs the risk of being too narrow-minded and Earth-centric." So he and his collaborators created a second rating system, called the Planetary Habitability Index, or PHI. This one is a lot looser: for starters, it includes planets that have a "stable substrate," meaning a solid surface of some kind, protected by an atmosphere of some kind. What kind? Don't ask: any answer you give is already too restrictive.

Other criteria for the PHI are some sort of energy source (sunlight, say, or geological heating); some sort of chemical environment that allows the formation of complex molecules; and the presence of a liquid solvent — but it needn't be water. When you apply these standards, says Schulze-Makuch, Saturn's moon Titan actually comes out ahead of Mars on the PHI index. "Titan has a dense nitrogen-methane atmosphere," he points out, while Mars has almost no atmosphere at all. Titan also has lakes of liquid hydrocarbons — mostly methane and ethane. And it clearly has plenty of complex chemistry going on, as revealed by the Huygens probe that touched down there in 2005.

Even on a world like Titan, life would be at least vaguely familiar, if only because it would be based on carbon chemistry. But scientists have also speculated on the possibility of life forms based on silicon, and that's part of the PHI as well. A planet with complex silicon chemistry is "not as high up on the PHI," says Schulze-Makuch, because silicon isn't as chemically versatile as carbon. Still, he and his colleagues don't want to out rule any possibility prematurely.

Since the PHI involves planetary characteristics that are hard to measure at this point — a planet's chemistry is far more difficult to determine than its size, whether it's a few million miles away or many trillions — the PHI profile for any given world will emerge only slowly, as technology improves. "It's flexible," says Schulze-Makuch. "We might start knowing only the diameter and temperature, but if we detect some component in its atmosphere, the PHI could change. Things could become much more interesting."

They could, that is, if the powerful telescopes on astronomers' wish lists actually get built. Earlier this year, a congressional committee recommended killing the James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble's successor. And the Terrestrial Planet Finder, an even more ambitious project that might have been able to study alien atmospheres, has been postponed indefinitely.

The Webb will probably survive — but without the Planet Finder or something like it, the new classification schemes Schulze-Makuch and his colleagues have proposed will be nothing more than a clever theoretical exercise. With that, in turn, could go our best chance of learning if somewhere out there we have galactic kin.

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2100159,00.html#ixzz1fEatOD9I

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« Reply #5630 on: Nov 30th, 2011, 7:55pm »

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Rival Kings
by Andy Rouse








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« Reply #5631 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 07:52am »

New York Times

December 1, 2011
As Britain Closes Embassies, Iran’s Isolation Could Complicate Nuclear Issue
By JOHN F. BURNS

LONDON — With Britain’s decision to close its vandalized embassy in Tehran and expel all Iranian diplomats from London, Iran appears to have moved a major step closer to international pariah status. That isolation could complicate efforts by Western governments to halt what they have identified as Iran’s covert efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, according to diplomats and others who monitor Iranian affairs.

A day after announcing the British measures, Foreign Secretary William Hague — in Brussels for a meeting with his European Union counterparts — said Thursday he would “be advocating an intensification of economic sanctions, particularly to increase the isolation of the Iranian financial sector.” Those measures, he told the BBC, “will be related to the Iranian nuclear program” rather than to Britain’s damaged diplomatic offices in Tehran.

The Iranian program has inspired frequent speculation that Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike against nuclear facilities which Iran insists are for peaceful purposes. But, speaking to Israel Radio on Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “We have no intention, at the moment, of taking action, but the state of Israel is far from being paralyzed by fear. It must act calmly and quietly — we don’t need big wars.”

Iran, meanwhile, released 11 students detained for storming the diplomatic buildings, freeing them late on Wednesday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Although the British Embassy in Tehran has long been denounced by many Iranians as “a nest of spies,” diplomats say that Britain’s maintenance of that mission through much of the 30-year period when the United States has been absent has provided a useful bridge for diplomatic contacts on the nuclear issue, even if they have been mostly unproductive.

In announcing the decision to close the embassies in Tehran and London, Mr. Hague noted that diplomatic relations had not been ruptured altogether, as they were for 18 months after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued his notorious fatwa calling for the killing of the British novelist Salman Rushdie over the publication of Mr. Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” in 1989.

Instead, Mr. Hague said, Britain was reducing ties to “the lowest level consistent” with having a diplomatic relationship at all — a formulation British officials said was linked, in part, to the need for continuing contacts with Tehran on its nuclear programs.

At the same time, Britain emphasized the broad international support it had received over the storming of its embassy, and noted the additional pressure that the event could place on the Tehran leadership. Along with strong backing from Washington, Mr. Hague said, Britain had received messages of support from Russia and China — veto-wielding members of the Security Council that have so far blocked further United Nations sanctions over the nuclear dispute. Other nations that Mr. Hague commended were France and Turkey, which used their missions in Tehran to help evacuate Britain’s diplomats from the Iranian capital within 24 hours of the Tuesday attack.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France used a cabinet meeting in Paris on Wednesday to condemn “the scandalous attack” on the British mission, according to French officials, and France’s budget minister, Valérie Pécresse, said the 27-nation European Union should consider an embargo on Iran’s oil or a freeze of its central bank holdings in Europe. France, Germany and the Netherlands all announced the withdrawal of their ambassadors, and Norway said it was closing its embassy “as a precaution.” Italy said it was evaluating whether to keep its diplomatic presence in Tehran, and Austria’s foreign minister, Michael Spindelegger, said Iran had placed itself “outside the framework of international law.”

Some experts on Iran cautioned against allowing international opprobrium for the Tehran leadership to build to the point where Iran might abandon caution. “Let’s hope the crisis does not spiral out of control,” Ervand Abrahamian, an Iranian-born historian at the City University of New York, said in an e-mailed response to questions about the embassy assault.

The embassy intrusion came against a backdrop of what Iran experts have called an increasingly bitter rift between factions of the Iranian leadership over a variety of issues, including the nuclear dispute with the West. Some expressed concern that a harsh Western response to the attack could embolden the militant faction associated with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, including men who control fiercely political paramilitary units like the Republican Guards and the Basij, in their power struggle with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president.

Mr. Abrahamian said that the Khamenei faction may have decided to strike at Britain after events in recent months that many in Iran have seen as part of a covert plan to destroy Iran’s nuclear aspirations. These events, he said, included the assassination of three nuclear scientists, computer-based sabotage of uranium enrichment centrifuges and a devastating explosion at a military base west of Tehran a few weeks ago that killed the general who pioneered Iran’s missile development.

With no American or Israeli Embassy in Tehran, Mr. Abrahamian said, British diplomatic installations might have been seen as “obvious targets” — all the more so, he suggested, after Britain’s decision last month, in response to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency raising new concerns about the possible military applications of the nuclear program, to order all Britain-based credit and financial institutions to cease trading with Iran’s banks.

“Some sectors of the Iranian government — especially the Republican Guards — would have known about the impending attack on the embassy compound and would have turned a blind eye,” he said.

Britain’s response was announced to a restive House of Commons 24 hours after scores of protesters stormed the sprawling British Embassy compound in the heart of Tehran and a diplomatic residential enclave in the capital’s Alborz hills.

Although all of Britain’s diplomats and local Iranian employees were accounted for by nightfall on Tuesday, many news media accounts of the attack in Britain raised the specter of the tumultuous, 444-day occupation of the United States Embassy in the Iranian capital that began the spiral of Iran’s estrangement more than 30 years ago.

Mr. Hague waited until all of Britain’s diplomats were out of Iran before announcing the closing of the London and Tehran embassies, and giving the House of Commons his own outraged account of the assault. Calling it “a breach of international responsibilities of which any nation should be ashamed,” he set an unusually tight deadline of 48 hours for the Iranian Embassy in London’s upscale Kensington neighborhood to be closed and for all Iranian diplomats to vacate the country.

Brushing aside an Iranian Foreign Ministry apology on Tuesday disavowing the attack, Mr. Hague identified the protesters as members of the Basij, an extremist youth militia and a shock force often unleashed by militant elements in Tehran’s religious hierarchy to suppress street protests or attack opponents. “We should be clear from the outset that this is an organization controlled by elements of the Iranian regime,” he said.

Television images on Tuesday showed scores of intruders who had forced their way into the British Embassy shouting, “Death to England!” They were burning Union Jacks torn from flagstaffs and tossing sheaves of purloined documents out of windows.

Mr. Hague said the intruders had set fire to the embassy’s main office building, destroyed furniture, stolen the staff’s personal possessions, and gone on to “vandalize and loot” the ambassador’s residence and other staff accommodations before Iranian police officers escorted them outside.

Mr. Hague excoriated the Tehran government. He acknowledged growing tensions between Britain and Iran over the nuclear issue, saying that Britain had been foremost among advocates of tightened international sanctions after the report released Nov. 8 by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which expressed, as Mr. Hague noted, “deep and increasing concern” about the Iranian nuclear program and its “possible military dimensions.”

“But we should be absolutely clear that no difficulty in relations can ever excuse in any way or under any circumstances the failure to protect diplomatic staff and diplomatic premises,” he said. “Iran is a country where opposition leaders are under house arrest, more than 500 people have been executed so far this year, and where genuine protest is ruthlessly stamped on. The idea that the Iranian authorities could not have protected our embassy or that this could have taken place without some degree of regime consent is fanciful.”

Alan Cowell and Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting from London, and Artin Afkhami from Boston.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/world/middleeast/britain-closure-embassy-iran-expel-diplomats.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #5632 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 07:55am »

Wired

Dec. 1, 1942: Mandatory Gas Rationing, Lots of Whining

By Tony Long November 30, 2009 | 8:00 pm
Categories: 20th century, Transportation, Warfare and Military

1942: Nearly a year after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States fully into World War II, the Americans get around to imposing nationwide gasoline rationing.

A fuel shortage was not the problem. America had plenty of that. What it lacked was rubber. Both the Army and Navy were in desperate need of rubber for the war effort.

Imports had fallen off to a trickle, because many of the traditional sources were now in Japanese hands. The construction of synthetic-rubber factories was just beginning.

Mandatory gasoline rationing had been in effect in the eastern United States since May 1942, but a voluntary program in other parts of the country had proven unsuccessful.

The Baruch Rubber Report, presented to President Franklin Roosevelt on Sept. 1, 1942, concluded that the United States was “a have-not nation” when it came to rubber. Meeting the military’s enormous needs would be nearly impossible if the civilians at home didn’t cut out nonessential driving to conserve on tire wear.

The best way to achieve that was to make it more difficult for people to use their cars. And the best way to do that was to limit the amount of gasoline an individual could purchase.

Proving it could remain obstinate even in the face of a national crisis, Congress balked at imposing nationwide gas rationing. Forcing Americans to curtail their driving would be bad for business, many legislators argued. They evidently feared voter backlash more than they did Hitler or Hirohito.

They pushed for a delay at the very least, but FDR would have none of it. Backed by government procurement agencies and military leaders, the president ordered gasoline rationing to begin on Dec. 1 and to last “the duration.”

Americans were presented with FDR’s fait accompli on Nov. 26, giving them less than a week to prepare. The story shared the top of Page 1 in The New York Times, alongside a report of the developing Soviet offensive at Stalingrad.

Thus, Americans soon became acquainted with the ration card, which had to be presented on every trip to the filling station. To be out of ration stamps was to be out of luck.

Drivers who used their cars for work that was deemed essential to the war effort were classified differently and received additional stamps. There were five classifications:

•Class A drivers were allowed only 3 gallons of gasoline per week.
•Class B drivers (factory workers, traveling salesmen) received 8 gallons per week.
•Class C drivers included essential war workers, police, doctors and letter carriers.
•Class T included all truck drivers.
•Class X was reserved for politicians and other “important people.”

The last three classifications were not subject to the restrictions.

The griping didn’t stop, not in Congress and not on Main Street, USA, despite assurances from William Jeffers, the War Production Board’s rubber director. He said, “[T]he worker can obtain enough gasoline for his necessary driving. The farmer can obtain enough for getting his produce to market. Every citizen can get enough gasoline for essential driving.”

The whining was loudest in the western states, where gasoline was especially plentiful, rationing had come late, and the distances were great.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/11/1201world-war-2-gasoline-rationing/

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« Reply #5633 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 08:01am »






Uploaded by GixxxerG on Nov 28, 2011

Bizzle having himself a quick snack.

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« Reply #5634 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 08:03am »

back in a bit
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5635 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 08:19am »

hahahahhahahaa Love it...!!

on Dec 1st, 2011, 08:01am, WingsofCrystal wrote:



Uploaded by GixxxerG on Nov 28, 2011

Bizzle having himself a quick snack.

Category:
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« Reply #5636 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 12:46pm »

Hi Luvey! cheesy

Crystal
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« Reply #5637 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 12:50pm »

Yahoo News

Digging into China’s nuclear tunnels

By William Wan
The Washington Post
Wed, Nov 30, 2011


The Chinese have called it their “Underground Great Wall” — a vast network of tunnels designed to hide their country’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear arsenal.

For the past three years, a small band of obsessively dedicated students at Georgetown University has called it something else: homework.

Led by their hard-charging professor, a former top Pentagon official, they have translated hundreds of documents, combed through satellite imagery, obtained restricted Chinese military documents and waded through hundreds of gigabytes of online data.

The result of their effort? The largest body of public knowledge about thousands of miles of tunnels dug by the Second Artillery Corps, a secretive branch of the Chinese military in charge of protecting and deploying its ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.

The study is yet to be released, but already it has sparked a congressional hearing and been circulated among top officials in the Pentagon, including the Air Force vice chief of staff.

Most of the attention has focused on the 363-page study’s provocative conclusion — that China’s nuclear arsenal could be many times larger than the well-established estimates of arms-control experts.

“It’s not quite a bombshell, but those thoughts and estimates are being checked against what people think they know based on classified information,” said a Defense Department strategist who would discuss the study only on the condition of anonymity.

The study’s critics, however, have questioned the unorthodox Internet-based research of the students, who drew from sources as disparate as Google Earth, blogs, military journals and, perhaps most startlingly, a fictionalized TV docudrama about Chinese artillery soldiers — the rough equivalent of watching Fox’s TV show “24” for insights into U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

But the strongest condemnation has come from nonproliferation experts who worry that the study could fuel arguments for maintaining nuclear weapons in an era when efforts are being made to reduce the world’s post-Cold War stockpiles.

Beyond its impact in the policy world, the project has made a profound mark on the students — including some who have since graduated and taken research jobs with the Defense Department and Congress.

“I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent on it,” said Nick Yarosh, 22, an international politics senior at Georgetown. “But you ask people what they did in college, most just say I took this class, I was in this club. I can say I spent it reading Chinese nuclear strategy and Second Artillery manuals. For a nerd like me, that really means something.”

For students, an obsession

The students’ professor, Phillip A. Karber, 65, had spent the Cold War as a top strategist reporting directly to the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But it was his early work in defense that cemented his reputation, when he led an elite research team created by Henry Kissinger, who was then the national security adviser, to probe the weaknesses of Soviet forces.

Karber prided himself on recruiting the best intelligence analysts in the government. “You didn’t just want the highest-ranking or brightest guys, you wanted the ones who were hungry,” he said.

In 2008, Karber was volunteering on a committee for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a Pentagon agency charged with countering weapons of mass destruction.

After a devastating earthquake struck Sichuan province, the chairman of Karber’s committee noticed Chinese news accounts reporting that thousands of radiation technicians were rushing to the region. Then came pictures of strangely collapsed hills and speculation that the caved-in tunnels in the area had held nuclear weapons.

Find out what’s going on, the chairman asked Karber, who began looking for analysts again — this time among his students at Georgetown.

The first inductees came from his arms-control classes. Each semester, he set aside a day to show them tantalizing videos and documents he had begun gathering on the tunnels. Then he concluded with a simple question: What do you think it means?

“The fact that there were no answers to that really got to me,” said former student Dustin Walker, 22. “It started out like any other class, tests on this day or that, but people kept coming back, even after graduation. . . . We spent hours on our own outside of class on this stuff.”

The students worked in their dorms translating military texts. They skipped movie nights for marathon sessions reviewing TV clips of missiles being moved from one tunnel structure to another. While their friends read Shakespeare, they gathered in the library to war-game worst-case scenarios of a Chinese nuclear strike on the United States.

Over time, the team grew from a handful of contributors to roughly two dozen. Most spent their time studying the subterranean activities of the Second Artillery Corps.

While the tunnels’ existence was something of an open secret among the handful of experts studying China’s nuclear arms, almost no papers or public reports on the structures existed.

So the students turned to publicly available Chinese sources — military journals, local news reports and online photos posted by Chinese citizens. It helped that China’s famously secretive military was beginning to release more information, driven by its leaders’ eagerness to show off China’s growing power to its citizens.

The Internet also generated a raft of leads: new military forums, blogs and once-obscure local TV reports now posted on the Chinese equivalents of YouTube. Strategic string searches even allowed the students to get behind some military Web sites and download documents such as syllabuses taught at China’s military academies.

Drudgery and discoveries

The main problem was the sheer amount of translation required.

Each semester, Karber managed to recruit only one or two Chinese-speaking students. So the team assembled a makeshift system to scan images of the books and documents they found. Using text-capture software, they converted those pictures into Chinese characters, which were fed into translation software to produce crude English versions. From those, they highlighted key passages for finer translation by the Chinese speakers.

The downside was the drudgery — hours feeding pages into the scanner. The upside was that after three years, the students had compiled a searchable database of more than 1.4 million words on the Second Artillery and its tunnels.

By combining everything they found in the journals, video clips, satellite imagery and photos, they were able to triangulate the location of several tunnel structures, with a rough idea of what types of missiles were stored in each.

Their work also yielded smaller revelations: how the missiles were kept mobile and transported from structure to structure, as well as tantalizing images and accounts of a “missile train” and disguised passenger rail cars to move China’s long-range missiles.

To facilitate the work, Karber set up research rooms for the students at his home in Great Falls. He bought Apple computers and large flat-screen monitors for their video work and obtained small research grants for those who wanted to work through the summer. When work ran late, many crashed in his basement’s spare room.

“I got fat working on this thing because I didn’t go to the gym anymore. It was that intense,” said Yarosh, who has continued on the project this year not for credit but purely as a hobby. “It’s not the typical college course. Dr. Karber just tells you the objective and gives you total freedom to figure out how to get there. That level of trust can be liberating.”

Some of the biggest breakthroughs came after members of Karber’s team used personal connections in China to obtain a 400-page manual produced by the Second Artillery and usually available only to China’s military personnel.

Another source of insight was a pair of semi-fictionalized TV series chronicling the lives of Second Artillery soldiers.

The plots were often overwrought with melodrama — one series centers on a brigade commander who struggles to whip his slipshod unit into shape while juggling relationship problems with his glamorous Olympic-swim-coach girlfriend. But they also included surprisingly accurate depictions of artillery units’ procedures that lined up perfectly with the military manual and other documents.

“Until someone showed us on screen how exactly these missile deployments were done from the tunnels, we only had disparate pieces. The TV shows gave us the big picture of how it all worked together,” Karber said.

A bigger Chinese arsenal?

In December 2009, just as the students began making progress, the Chinese military admitted for the first time that the Second Artillery had indeed been building a network of tunnels. According to a report by state-run CCTV, China had more than 3,000 miles of tunnels — roughly the distance between Boston and San Francisco — including deep underground bases that could withstand multiple nuclear attacks.

The news shocked Karber and his team. It confirmed the direction of their research, but it also highlighted how little attention the tunnels were garnering outside East Asia.

The lack of interest, particularly in the U.S. media, demonstrated China’s unique position in the world of nuclear arms.

For decades, the focus has been on the two powers with the largest nuclear stockpiles by far — the United States, with 5,000 warheads available for deployment, and Russia, which has 8,000.

more after the jump
http://news.yahoo.com/digging-china-nuclear-tunnels-013008319.html

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« Reply #5638 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 12:52pm »

.


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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5639 on: Dec 1st, 2011, 1:43pm »

on Dec 1st, 2011, 08:01am, WingsofCrystal wrote:



Uploaded by GixxxerG on Nov 28, 2011

Bizzle having himself a quick snack.

Category:
Comedy

~

Crystal

That is really mighty funny. Thanks for posting, Crystal. grin
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