Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bloodcurdling tales of horror and the macabre...

     I don't do a lot of reading but when I do, this guy is probably my favorite author. I was introduced to sci-fi horror at an early age by movies like Predator 2 and Aliens. As a teenager I wrote a short story for English class, it being a tale of insanity and horror ending in suicide, my teacher had written on it how well written it was, and suggested I take a look at the works of H. P. Lovecraft. I was only into those kinda crappy fantasy novels before that, but I decided to pick up a copy from the library. Holy crap I read the very first storey and my head literally exploded.

     I challenge anyone into horror or sci-fi to only read the first story in this book. Its only the warm up of the most creepy, horrible, insane, and perverse stories I've read in a book. Its a collection of shorter stories/novels and I have never read anything as amazing. He was born in 1890, and literally invented the sci-fi/horror genre, his otherworldly concepts and twists are my favorite. Its almost impossible to describe how a lot of his works go without ruining the entire reading experience.

     The rats in the walls. This art was inspired by the story by Lovecraft, and is one of my all time favorites. Again, I recommend it but I find it hard to describe what this is about without ruining the entire story, its a good starter since its fairly short. It however does involve rats in the walls.  And a lot of other stuff you will never ever see coming i promise you that. Its quite disturbing to read, as almost all of his works.

    Remind you of gears of war? hell yeah he came up with the idea of this kind of monster 100 years ago almost. An awesome story I haven't got around to reading any of the later tales but the first left a lasting impression on me, and was incredibly weird and sci fi like. I highly recommend it, again its not super long which is what I like. Its nice to read a whole insane piece of fiction in 1 or 3 sittings, I usually cant put it down.

    The lines of sci-fi and horror are so blurred sometimes you are left with questions, and a lot of them fill your head with ideas of "what really happened". But a lot of the time your never gonna know, this is another great piece of work again nice and short and well worth the read. Insanity? space ship? I have no idea.

     If your not so inclined as a reader check out this film of one of his works Dagon. I'm sure NONE of you will be disappointed watching it all the way through. There's a reason they never showed this thing in theatres, but I will let you find out about how fast this movie goes from horror to horror/perv in 2 seconds.

     This is the book I received for Christmas and man am I ready to dive into this, I'll give a list of the stories at the bottom but it has some old ones I haven't read in a long time, and a lot of titles I cant wait to read like "The Shadow Out of Time" and "The Picture in The House". That last one sounds kind lame from the title but if you've read him before you defiantly have some memory of some creepy portrait you've seen before earlier in your life that just gave you chills. Defiantly my favorite Christmas present hopefully I will find the time during school to sit down and read it soon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My expeirances with model rocketry

     Probably one of my favorite Christmas presents as a kid was getting one of these. It wasn't huge maybe 2 feet tall max. But the memories will last a life time. My dad bought me a complete kit one year with a launch pad an everything. Since we lived in a place with many huge fields it was a perfect place to launch. It was a standard parachute body with a rotor nose cone which was pretty cool to see. His friend eventually got involved and he bought a few little A engine tiny rockets which was kind of lame and they would almost instantly disappear.

     Then one day his friend brings over this. I don't need to tell you it would never fit on my puny launchpad. So after a few beers a bunch of guys with almost no experience in model rockets decided it would just fine if we stood it up on its fins on a couple of bricks. It wasn't. Not half a second before ignition there was a slight breeze just enough to start it to tip over. It reached around the 60 degree mark as the D engine screamed open. I was surprised at the noise. So it took off on a trajectory and made a perfect flight. It was the landing that was the problem, it ended up coming down on top of an old tree about 40-50 feet up. We could see it, but it was never coming down again. I don't know how much that cost him, but it was still fun to watch.

     After my rocket was destroyed by a family friends child, I had left over engines. I also had a number of model cars and aircraft I had built. The only logical conclusion any 14 year old boy would make was to strap said engines onto said models. The first one was a model of a British sea harrier. The whole time I imaged it taking off with a huge blast and flying into the distance. What happened in reality was it launched about a foot into the air, made a 180 degree turn and came straight back at me spinning in the air. I also launched a Lamborghini it drove about 15 feet then launched into the air spun around and nailed the ground with an explosive impact releasing the engine which flew around aimlessly.

     Do not attempt at home.

Catch me if you can...

     The SR-71 Blackbird was built almost entirely of titanium, 85% basically, which back in the late 60s was unheard of in an airframe. Traveling at mach 3+ had its disadvantages though. Friction with the air around it would cause the temperature of the air craft to rise to 500 degrees, this led to sections of the wings and fuselage to being corrugated to allow for the expansion of the heated titanium. It would literally leak fuel all over the runway before take off until it became hot enough to make a snug fit. So it was usually the case that they would make a few fast flybys to warm up and then refuel in the air before the mission. Luckily its fuel was extremely hard to ignite.

     It was designed to be stealth but truly it was very detectable, and it really didn't matter anyway since it could outrun anything in the sky, even surface to air missles. To this day not a single one was shot down with over 3000 shots being taken at it. They would just kick in the afterburner and get away. To make things even more difficult they would often operate at 80,000 feet. To put that in perspective a human being cannot maintain consciousness around about 12,000 feet, their lungs just can't absorb enough oxygen in the low pressure environment. Also standard oxygen masks are only good up to around 40,000 feet, after which it because extremely difficult to exhale do to the pressure difference. That's why they wore space suits, and they where later used in the space shuttle.

     Pull the yellow lever, I dare you. You'd get a flash wave of temperatures over 450 degrees upon ejection. It is defiantly one of the coolest looking birds ever built, and its performance was a match. Lots where lost to accidents and malfunctions but an awesome aircraft that flew to the edge of space.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Voyager 1

     This robotic space probe is still operating, it has been working since 1977. It's the most distant man made object in existence so far. It's main function was to study the solar systems two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, as well as stopping by Uranus and Neptune. It captured the first close up images of the largest planets.  It worked out perfectly when they decided to go ahead with this plan since the planets where going to be in alignment to make use of something that had never been attempted before on such a scale, the gravity boost.

     Awesome concept, free velocity from the planets. It had 16 hydrazine thrusters and 8 back up thrusters. As well as a wide array of sophisticated (for the time) instruments. It can transmit data at a whopping 115 kilobytes per second, and has a massive internal tape memory of 65,000 kilobytes heh. Maybe not impressive today, but very much so on a spacecraft in the 70s.

     Yup its radioactive, its powered by plutonium, which can make enough heat to produce 470 watts. This will allow voyager to continue to function until around 2025, as the plutonium oxide will slowly decay over time. As of Feb 6 2011, Voyager 1 was 116 Au (17 billion kms) from the sun. It is traveling at an unbelievable 17 Km/second.

     This is the golden record attached to Voyager. I wont even try to go into detail about how much information or why it was recorded and written on this disk but its a lot. Here's just the "instructions".

yeah, its pretty fast

     The rocket powered X-15, first flown in 1959 still holds the world record for fastest speed of a manned rocket powered aircraft. On its fastest flights it flew over 7,000 km/h, reaching over 100km's in altitude. It was launched from under a B-25 at 800 km/h at 45,000 feet. This thing just looks mean at 50ft long and 22 feet wide. And it wasn't just strapping a rocket on the back of this bad boy, it actually had throttle control so you could somewhat affect your acceleration.

     The first model had two rocket engines in the rear but it later moved two a one motor set up. Upon landing it would jettison the bottom half of its lower rear stabilizer to allow the read landing gear to touch the ground. In 1967 one of these things came down hard too. Michael J. Adams was descending from 81km above the earth when he went into a hypersonic spin, yeah that's bad at that kinda height and speed. The aircraft ripped itself apart under the intense forces. You cant eject at that kind of speed.

It was finally retired in 1969, as NASA decided on other systems for manned space flight, but today it is still one of my favorite space planes. Hats off to the brave men who took a ride on one of these.

Friday, February 4, 2011

      This is the X-37B an experimental unmanned space vehicle. Why waste all that fuel to put man into space when a robot can do the same job without risk to human beings? Looks like a NASA project, but it's not. It's the US air force. They claim to be using it to bring equipment into space to test it out, but who are they kidding, any rocket can do that, I think this thing will be used as a highly maneuverable weapons platform.
      It launches inside the nose of an Atlas 5 rocket. And Boeing has built 2 of these things, the other was successfully flown last year and this one will be launching in early march. They wont release the specs on it but I'm sure it would be no problem to fill one with a lot of weapons. Laser technology could actually be practical in disabling enemy satellites.