Sunday, February 28, 2010

PLN 14

The article “The Daedalus Spacecraft” by Allan Bellows talks about a massive plan to send a space craft. It would be moving at 76.6 million kilometers an hour or 1/8th the speed of light, propelling towards another star to see if there was any life there. This project was thought of in the 1980s but never agreed on because of the cost and the rareness of the element Helium -3. The fuel would power the nuclear reactor engine. Atoms would be bombarded with explosions and explode at 250 times a second to propel the rocket forward. The rocket would have 3 main objectives: (1) use current or near-future technology; (2) it must reach its destination within a human lifetime and, (3) the spacecraft must be designed to allow for a variety of target stars. The rocket would also have 3 main parts. The fuel tanks and combustion/exhaust 1 and 2 and storage for the pods that would exit off of the craft to go exploring elsewhere. All of the crafts would be able to take pictures of what they were flying by but would not be able to stop and explore. The cost of receiving the extra fuel and installing it on the craft while letting it be able to carry all of the fuel would slow it down too much. The Daedalus spacecraft idea has been hung up because people want the space program working on something more achievable and because of the cost. They might reconsider if it was a world effort instead of just a single country attempt.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

PLN 13

The article “The Most Powerful Bomb Ever Constructed” by Allan Bellows talks about how the Soviets during the Cold War built the most powerful nuclear bomb in the world called the Czar Bomb. This bomb yielded 10 trillion pounds of force, while the US warheads only yielded 40 billion pounds. Since the Soviet’s goal was to beat out the US in the nuclear arms race, they built the biggest and best nuke. They skipped all of the mathematic equations needed to estimate the explosive power of the bomb. When they detonated the bomb up the flash could be seen for 1,000 kilometers and the mushroom cloud reached 60 kilometers high. The diameter of the blast was about 40 kilometers which was much larger than they estimated. During the hour of the blast most radio communications were disabled. Also, when photographers were sent to the bomb site to record the effect, they reported that the ground was completely flat and that all of the rocks were smoothed over by the blast. This showed that the blast was 10 times more powerful than anything ever produced. Though the Soviets never actually used this bomb or any other type of bomb during the Cold War, there was always the threat that they would. They knew that if they sent nukes over to obliterate the US then we would retaliate and destroy all life on Earth.

Monday, February 22, 2010

PLN 12

The article “The Timber Terror” by Alan Bellows talks about the Royal Air Force during WWII and what kind of planes they invented to out run the Germans. The RAF sent out requests for airplane ideas. One company, De Havilland, had the idea to use wood instead of metal because metal was in short supply. The plane wasn’t accepted for a long time because the RAF didn’t like the idea of a wooden plane. De Havilland was persistent through making major and minor adjustments to the plane which included removing and making lighter engines. When De Havilland had thought that they had perfected the Mosquito, as it was later called, they talked to their man on the inside of the Royal Air Force named Sir Wilfred Freeman. After they conferred with him, the Mosquito idea was approved. The Royal Air Force made some additional adjustments and tests. They discovered that the Mosquito could reach 392 miles per hour with a full bomb load. The plane could out run the Germans planes any day and they did. The planes were also transformed into other types of planes like fighters. They were used to complete more than 28,000 missions during the war. The missions included freeing prisoners of war, destroying Gestapo head quarters and bombing German head quarters. Though none of the remaining Mosquitoes can fly, the original design was saved and is being remade.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

PLN 11

The article “The Skyhook” by Jason Bellows talks about the invention of a plane that doesn’t have to land to pick you up off of the ground, called the Skyhook. The way this plane works is the person that is being picked up has a pack with an empty balloon and a bottle of helium and a 500 foot long cord that they use to attach themselves to the plane and be pulled in with. They inflate the balloon, then float up and let the plane catch them. Then they slide along the cord to the end of the plane were they are pulled in with a hook. The reason they made these planes was because they didn’t have long range helicopters and they were in the artic so they couldn’t land very easily so they invented the no stop pickup. Soon after they created the long range helicopter so they could do long range stop and drop instead of parachuting out. The reason this matters is, we could have perfected the Skyhook but the long range helicopter is a lot safer because you’re not getting picked up in mid-air. The reason this plane was built was because we didn’t have powerful enough helicopters to get men in and out of these areas. Lastly, these planes stopped being produced because we had invented the long range helicopter which was more maneuverable then the Skyhook.

PLN 10

The article “Village Hall to crack down on skateboarders” by Jennifer Choi talks about New Yorkers growing dislike of skateboarders. People in New York and all over the country are becoming more wary of the property damage and personal injuries skateboarders create. New Yorkers are very concerned of walking amongst skateboarders for fear that they will be injured in a collision. Property owners are also concerned over their liability when a skateboarder injures someone on their property. Lastly, the high cost of repairing property damage skateboarders create to benches, tables and hand rails creates real hostility from landlords. City officials have passed numerous laws to discourage inappropriate skateboarding, while spending millions of dollars to encourage safe skateboarding in skate parks.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The article “The Windscale disaster” by Gerry Matlack talks about during the Cold War, how the UK was inventing a new radiation grenade. The grenade would be given a lot of gamma rays to get it to emit all of its gamma radiation in one quick burst or an explosion. A teaspoon of the Uranium would cause an explosion the size of 100 tons of TNT. The explosion would also have a half-life of 20.35 years. Meaning that the radiation from the grenade would be radiating through that area for 20.35 years. Gamma radiation is what is used to kill off cancer cells and would cause major radiation poisoning in the people in the blast area. The reason the UK was inventing this was because they weren’t allowed, by army law after WWII, to make anything that had to do with nuclear and that kind of thing because they didn’t want to get involved in the Cold War even though they had won the war, there army had been decimated. When the Americans heard about this they put thousands of dollars into this project to try to catch up with the British. If both countries were able to build this grenade then they would have a greater chance of defeating the Russians.

Monday, February 1, 2010


The article "The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk" by Ben Taylor talks about how the story of Robinson Crusoe was created in the 17th century. It all started when Alexander Selkirk thinks that his captain’s boat is full of too many holes in the hull from all of the storms they have been through. The captain doesn’t like the way that Alexander is thinking, so they maroon him on Juan Fernandez, and island about 600 miles from Valparaiso which is off of the coast of South America. When the crew marooned Alexander they left him with a pistol, knife, hatchet, a navigation instruments, a bible, a flask of rum, and enough food for just a few days. After he inventoried the items that he had he realized that he could do what he wanted with his life know. Alexander spent a surprising four years on the island surviving by eating goats and plumbs. To keep himself in shape, Alexander would go and catch the goats. Not to eat them, but to keep track of his physical ability, he would carve a little notch in the horn. He also kept track of how many goats he ate over the four years that he was on the island and it was around 500 goats. He also found a freshwater spring on the island so he wouldn’t die of thirst. Once a Spanish boat docked at the island, and since Alexander was Scottish, he knew that the Spaniards would enslave him or kill him. So, he scrambled up a tree to avoid being caught and stayed there for two days until the Spaniards left the island. At the end of his time on the island an unidentifiable ship docked at the island to replenish supplies and he ran and signaled them and found that they were friendly and planned to sail with them back to England. Unfortunately, he died but after he got back to England and married twice. The writer Daniel Defoe was intrigued by Alexander’s story and decided to write a book on it called Robinson Crusoe and since it was so popular he had to write two more to make it a series. The main character, Alexander named Robinson was never alive to see the book but it got his story out and now the island is now named Robinson Crusoe Island which was changed by the Chile government in 1966.