WIRED: Why We Can’t Send Humans to Mars Yet (And How We’ll Fix That)
BY ADAM MANN
This is a good article and it has an excellent recap of needed technology, but it is in my opinion reduced in power by a negative tone. It seems biased by a drum beat I have been seeing about how hard, how expensive, how risky…etc, and while I appreciate the challenges one does not open frontiers by dwelling on all the horrid ways one is likely to die. This also seems Blue centric NASA, NASA, NASA. In the end the commercial civilian drive will send us outbound not risk averse bureaucrats.
A 3-D printed table … with holes and all. Photo: rosemarybeetle / Flickr
3-D printing is indeed an important fabrication technology, because it has the marvelous ability to make anything regardless of the complexity of the form.
Everything from cost and time to amount of material increases exponentially: specifically, to the third power. So if we want something twice as big, it will cost 8 times as much and take 8 times as long to print. If we want something three times as big, it will cost about 27 times more and takes 27 times longer to print. And so on.
Love simplifying memes, these are two great ones that help the mind focus on the issues involved when ‘discussions’ dealing with potentials are taking place.
Also in the article:
The reminder that these are not replicators, not yet anyway.
That many of the technologies enabling 3D printing are enabling CNC machining, laser-cutting, robotics and more, at DIY / hobbyist scale.
Einstein Tower, Potsdam, Germany
The 1920s-era Einstein Tower was built to prove one of general relativity’s predictions — that gravity would cause a shift in the sun’s spectrum. Although it never succeeded, it was one of Germany’s most important observatories for many years, up until its partial destruction during WWII. A fan of Einstein, architect Erich Mendelsohn molded concrete into graceful curves to evoke Einstein’s theories. Located at the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, the observatory is still in use as a solar observatory, though it splits time as a tourist attraction as well. The tower is skewered by a 1.5-meter solar telescope that visualizes solar magnetic fields and their location within sunspots.
Amazing what you can do with concrete, this sort of thing ought to be easier with 3D printing tech….
Pilatus Aircraft has been producing airplanes since the 1940s, but the Swiss firm’s newest model, the PC-24, is its first jet. Pilatus didn’t want to just be another jet maker. Instead, the company borrowed from its very successful single-engine turboprop, the PC-12, to create a jet that can do everything conventional business jets can do and fly in and out of relatively short, unpaved runways. Oh, and it has a big cargo door as well.
A short piece at Wired…not a real airplane yet, the above is one hell of a rendering. Pilatus’ world trotting PC-12 is the air ambulance of choice in the nether regions of the world…it’s also a preferred discrete ride for SOCom, one wonders what they will do with the PC-24?
The Met, Bangkok, Photo: Aga Khan Award for Architecture/Patrick Bingham-Hall, Each week, Wired Design brings us a photo of one of their favorite buildings
Completed in 2009, Bangkok’s 66-story Met Tower is an attempt to build an apartment complex uniquely suited to its surroundings, rather than adapting temperate techniques to a tropical location. WOHA Architects did this by incorporating elements of more traditional tropical housing, and the results have been shortlisted for Aga Khan’s 2013 Award for Architecture. The perforated 748-foot structure is actually six columns connected by breezeways that promote cross ventilation — each unit is exposed on all four sides. The facade is inspired by traditional Thai architecture and materials, with shade and vegetation screens reaching all the way to the top.
Cool! Hopefully in all the right ways.
Wired and others have been nattering about the Chinese carrier, it’s nascent flight wing, how crappy the hardware is, how hard the job is, etc, etc. working to defuse the China threat they think is being blown up by the Pentagon and congressional hawks.
Look at the two pictures above, the time from first flight to rational threat back ‘in the day’ was a few years, the big gun guys were laughing the whole time. That Fighter struggling off the Lianoning is a threat today if need be, and you do not have to impress an admiral to be able to sink his fleet. No it’s no realistic threat today but don’t make the mistake of equating little with none, the US capability with the capability required to be a threat, or today with forever. The US CVN capability is essentially static or downtrend, China is on the edge of asymptotic rise, with a century and millions of man years of prior experience across the world to pull up on. As other articles in have discussed, what really is a CV in the 21st century? So how long could it be till a Chinese CV threat is more than a wild card? Not long is my estimate.
The Montford Point landing platform is essentially a cut down supertanker ( the predecessors of today’s Ultra Large Crude-oil Carriers, ULCC) which can ballast down and ‘lean’ so hovercraft can come aboard in open sea. One option is to similarly use this type of craft or similarly modified commercial hulls as cheap almost disposable carriers as needed. A sub divided double hull tanker is very hard to sink and the hull plates are sufficient to keep out small arms and splinters. Plus armoring and fire fighting kits are available and cheap today. The ‘fighting’ bit’ would essentially be a mod kit (a skin) that can be updated, moved around, even stored ready for war, the hull could be almost any commercial large bulk carrier. Heck large container ships are very fast today as are some RoRos, so you don’t even lose much strategic deployment speed.
Wired’s building of the week, have got to say this makes me glad I’m not an office worker.