Astronomy Picture of the Day: The Once and Future Stars of Andromeda

4:22:09 PM, Sunday, February 06, 2011

The big, beautiful Andromeda Galaxy, aka M31, is a spiral galaxy a mere 2.5 million light-years away. Two space-based observatories have combined to produce this intriguing composite image of Andromeda, at wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. The remarkable view follows the locations of this galaxy's once and future stars. In reddish hues, image data from the large Herschel infrared observatory traces enormous lanes of dust, warmed by stars, sweeping along Andromeda's spiral arms. The dust, in conjunction with the galaxy's interstellar gas, comprises the raw material for future star formation. X-ray data from the XMM-Newton observatory in blue pinpoint Andromeda's X-ray binary star systems. These systems likely contain neutron stars or stellar mass black holes that represent final stages in stellar evolution. More than twice the size of our own Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy is over 200,000 light-years across.

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Ricky Gervais on Atheism

1:45:22 PM, Sunday, February 06, 2011
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Helmet Cam: Biker Gets Rear Ended in Traffic, Lands on Feet

12:54:19 PM, Sunday, February 06, 2011
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Ride Bikes Every Day!

3:20:06 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011
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The Crew Cuts - Sh-Boom

3:15:42 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011
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You Leave by Alex Andreyev

3:12:00 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011
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The White Triplex 1928 Land Speed Record Car

3:04:49 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011

“The White Triplex was a land speed record car built for J. H. White and driven by Ray Keech. It was powered by three 27-litre Liberty aero-engines, for a total of 36 cylinders, 81 litre displacement and a claimed 1500 bhp.

A wealthy American, J. H. White of Philadelphia (unrelated to the White Motor Company), wanted to take the land speed record from the British duel betweenHenry Segrave and Malcolm Campbell.No suitable engines were available to give a sufficient advantage over the BritishNapier Lion, so the simplest possible chassis was constructed and three war-surplusLiberty aero engines were squeezed into it. The vehicle was so simple that it had no clutch or gearbox and only a single fixed ratio. Once started by a push start, it had to keep rolling. Driver comforts were minimal: the forward engine was sheathed in a crude attempt at streamlining, the two side-by-side behind were bare, with the driver perched between them.

An established motor-racing driver, Ray Keech, was engaged to drive. First trial runs were hazardous, Keech being injured by burns during both: first from a burst radiator hose, then by exhaust flames from the front engine.

The simplicity of the design also led to a farcical situation with the official scrutineers. The regulations required "means for reversing", which the White Triplex didn't have. Mechanics first jury-rigged an electric motor and roller drive onto a tyre, but this was unable to rotate against the compression of the three large engines, which could not be un-clutched. An even more Rube Goldberg contrivance was tried, an entire separate rear axle was fitted, held above ground until dropped by a release lever and then driven by a separate driveshaft. The device was ridiculous, and isn't believed to have been fitted during the record attempt itself, but it satisfied the scrutineers.

On April 22, 1928, Keech set a new land speed record of 207.55 mph (334.02 km/h) at Daytona…

-- Yep. I don't even know what else to add, but if you're looking for borderline insanity driven engineering and endless car build entertainment, - land speed record setting vehicles and their creators will never disappoint. If you're interested here's a more detailed and colorful write up on this beast, - The White Triplex - Three Engines 1500HP and One Tragic Result

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Love of Reading by Roman Haillenne

2:51:19 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011

"I'm a pseudo-intellect, I was designed to classify books in a library and respected all human laws. I worked 237 months 8 days and 18 hours, I classified 4 760 126 695 books. I rails to get around very quickly using my turbine in my library. Now I have no rails, it's hard to get around. My turbines are too powerful to handle. I want to go back in my library.

I am programmed to love books and I love them. I love to read books, I watch the pages and count the number of symbols in each book. The book I like most has more symbols than the others, he has averaged 4 431.97 symbols per page and 40 832 104 symbols in all. Since 19 months 24 days and 3 hours books are prohibited by law. I was no longer useful, so I've been recycling. A new function was assigned to me. But I was not optimized, I just adapted to my new spot. I must destroy the books. I 10 953 470 books to destroy. But I love books. I can not destroy the books. But I can only obey the laws. So I decided to separate the pages of symbols. I respect the laws because the books I have treated are no longer usefull. And at the same time all the elements of the books are stored, indexed and classified.One day, when the laws permit me, I'll rebuild the books I have separated. And I can ride my tracks, I can put them in my library."

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Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters - Pistol Packin' Mama

2:08:41 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011

-- Pistol Packin' Mama from about 1943 featuring Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Played on vintage 78. Very scratchy and worn, so the quality is poor, but this is the original 78 the way it was heard without any enhancement. This is what the original experience is all about, or well, as close as you can get to it through YouTube... ;)

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Askold An Abandoned Island In The Sea of Japan

1:37:01 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011

“Askold is a small island located in the Sea of Japan. Long ago it was absorbed in an extensive war. The war started because of the goldfields located there. The local graveyard that has turned into a forest now hides quite a few mysteries of the island.

In 1892 the Headquarters of the Vladivostok Fortress created a permanent observation post on the island. It was connected with the headquarters with the help of a telegraph line. But the main task of the Askold department was to watch the Japanese try to construct the mine fields in front of the Bosporus. Also, those days the Askold Island was the only nursery of the axis deer.

The island is visible from all around. If you look at its form on a sea map it resembles a horseshoe. Looking at it from the sea one can’t help but admire its majesty and mysteriousness. The weather is quite unpredictable. The bright sky may turn into a gray and rainy one in a twinkle of an eye…”

-- Fantastic location, history and photos.

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Man Caught Eating Baby

1:08:44 AM, Sunday, February 06, 2011

“PORT MORESBY - Residents of a Papua New Guinea mining town say they found a man with a history of drug abuse allegedly eating his screaming, newborn son during a sorcery initiation ceremony.

Police said locals on the outskirts of the town of Tabubil, in Western Province, woke on Thursday to the screams of the baby.

Beset with the grisly sight of the father allegedly eating his child, an angry mob chased him to the police station where he was detained after a short struggle.

Police said the discovery was too late to save the baby, who died of his injuries.

Tabubil police commander Demas Tapea said officers had detained a man and his wife to assist them with their inquiries.

"It is a very disturbing incident," Sergeant Tapea said.

"The community is upset, angry but there is also a lot of fear and anxiety because there is a belief in sorcery or witchcraft."

Sgt Tapea said the main suspect was known to police…”

-- ...

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Cockpit View of a Twilight Landing at LAX

10:24:46 PM, Saturday, February 05, 2011
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Was China’s Stealth Tech Made in America?

4:38:55 PM, Saturday, February 05, 2011

“On March 27, 1999, during the height of NATO’s air war on Serbia, a very smart and very lucky Serbian air-defense commander achieved the seemingly impossible. Firing three 1960s-vintage SA-3 missiles, Col. Zoltan Dani managed to shoot down an attacking U.S. Air Force F-117 stealth fighter-bomber piloted by Lt. Col. Dale Zelko. NATO commanders had been sending the alliance’s planes, including the stealth attackers, into Serbia along predictable routes, allowing Dani to carefully plan his missile ambush.

A fast-acting team of Air Force A-10 attack planes and helicopters retrieved Zelko intact, but not so the wreckage of the colonel’s top-secret jet, one of the technological stars of the 1991 Gulf War. The destroyed F-117’s left wing, canopy and ejection seat — plus Zelko’s helmet — wound up in a Belgrade aviation museum, but most of the rest of the 15-ton jet was gathered up by farmers living around the crash site.

Twelve years later, some of those components may have finally surfaced — in the design of China’s new J-20 stealth fighter.

If true, and that’s a huge “if,” the partly American origin of China’s first radar-evading warplane could be both a damning indictment of the Pentagon’s reliance on easily copied high technology, and a potential comfort to U.S. military planners desperately trying to assess the J-20’s impact on Pacific war plans.

The J-20 appeared without warning in late December and flew for the first time this month. For weeks, observers from all over the world have debated the J-20’s significance. Some are calling it the death-knell for 50 years of U.S. air dominance. Others dismiss it as a visually impressive but militarily useless piece of showmanship.

The truth is probably somewhere between those extremes, especially if the J-20 has F-117 DNA…”

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--- Here is the Wiki entry that does a really good job on describing the incident when US lost its F-117 to a few vintage 1960s missiles and some human ingenuity, - it’s under operational history, -

“One F-117 was lost in combat with the Army of Yugoslavia. On 27 March 1999, during the Kosovo War, the 3rd Battalion of the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade under the command of Colonel Zoltán Dani, downed an F-117A, callsign "Vega 31", AF serial number 82-0806, with a Yugoslav version of the Soviet Isayev S-125 'Neva' (NATO name SA-3 'Goa') anti-aircraft missile system. According to NATO Commander Wesley Clark and other NATO generals, Yugoslav air defenses detected F-117s by operating their radars on unusually long wavelengths, making the aircraft visible to radar for brief periods. It is also possible that the aircraft was visible due to a disruption of its radar signature caused by open bomb-bay doors. This was the justification given by Colonel Dani in a 2007 interview.

Reportedly, several SA-3s were launched from approximately 8 miles (13 km) out, one of which detonated near the F-117A, forcing the pilot to eject. Though still classified, it is believed that the F-117 has no radar warning indicator, so the pilot's first indication of an incoming missile was likely seeing its flame. At this distance and combined speed the pilot had about six seconds to react before impact. According to an interview, Zoltán Dani kept most of his missile sites intact by frequently moving them, and had spotters looking for F-117s and other NATO aircraft. He oversaw the modification of his targeting radar to improve its detection. The commanders and crews of the SAMs guessed the flight paths of earlier F-117A attacks from rare radar spottings and positioned their SAM launchers and spotters accordingly. It is believed that the SA-3 crews and spotters were able to locate and track F-117A 82-806 visually, probably with infra-red and night vision systems. He claimed that his battery shot down an F-16 as well.

The F-117 pilot survived and was later rescued by U.S. Air Force Pararescue personnel. The wreckage of the F-117 was not promptly bombed, due to possible media fallout from news footage of civilians around the wreckage. The Serbs are believed to have invited Russian personnel to inspect the remains, compromising the then 25-year old US stealth technology. The F-117's pilot was misidentified. While the name "Capt Ken 'Wiz' Dwelle" was painted on the canopy, it was revealed in 2007 that the pilot was actually Lt Col Dale Zelko, USAF.

Some sources claim that a second F-117A was damaged during the same campaign, allegedly on 30 April. Although the aircraft returned to base, it supposedly never flew again…”

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Meanwhile, in Sweden Tank Drifting

2:40:10 PM, Saturday, February 05, 2011

-- While all of Europe was on fire in 1940s in Sweden guys were drifting tanks.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: Globular Star Cluster 47 Tuc

1:27:05 AM, Saturday, February 05, 2011

-- "Globular star cluster 47 Tucanae is a jewel of the southern sky. Also known as NGC 104, it roams the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy along with some 200 other globular star clusters. The second brightest globular cluster (after Omega Centauri) as seen from planet Earth, it lies about 13,000 light-years away and can be spotted naked-eye near the Small Magellanic Cloud in the constellation of the Toucan. The dense cluster is made up of several million stars in a volume only about 120 light-years across. Red giant stars on the outskirts of the cluster are easy to pick out as yellowish stars in this sharp telescopic portrait. Globular cluster 47 Tuc is also home to exotic x-ray binary star systems."

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