Monday, August 28, 2006

---Atlantis Pad Struck, Ernesto, More on ISS Science, Dark Matter, Pluto, Sony Again, "Hoodwinked" 

Warning! It’s (evidently) Science Day at the weblog:
Atlantis gets whacked

FL Today Space: "Lightning hit delays launch" Spaceflight Now | STS-115 Shuttle Report | Solid rocket booster tests could be ordered
A bolt of lightning with around 5 times the usual current struck the arrestor system of the launch pad on Friday. The strike was so intense that surges were detected in the Shuttle and associated systems:

“Telemetry showed a very small "spike" in one of the shuttle's electrical buses and a larger surge in the circuitry associated with a launch pad pyrotechnic device used to disconnect a hydrogen vent arm from the shuttle's external tank.”
An especially scary thought is that the circuitry associated with the destruct systems in the ET may have been affected.
Compounding the problem is the approach of Tropical Storm ERNESTO[NOAA]
Spaceflight Now | STS-115 Shuttle Report | Rollback preps ordered for Atlantis

The launch of Atlantis/STS-115 has been called for at least another day, and preparations are being made to take the stack back to the VAB if the storm continues to track toward the launch facility.
[The decision has now been made to return the Shuttle to the Assembly Building, as the storm's track continues to veer eastward:
NASA to move shuttle to shelter due to storm - Human Spaceflight - MSNBC.com
Current predictions have the storm returning to hurricane strength after crossing Cuba and passing up the eastern coast of Florida.]

Space station science gets squeezed - Human Spaceflight - MSNBC.com

...more information on the cutbacks to science programs once used to justify the effort to build the ISS. Meanwhile, the current daydreaming about new Moon missions has drawn away a lot of what’s left:

“Some observers say that NASA now sees the orbital outpost as a $100 billion white elephant to be finished, then quickly left behind in America's new push to the moon, Mars and beyond.”

Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | NASA finds direct proof of that dark matter exists
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory and other ‘scopes have revealed evidence (“proof” seems a bit optimistic, doesn’t it?) from the collisions of clusters of galaxies that gas and dust---“normal” matter---has been separated from the “dark” matter---whatever that is---in these galaxies by the energetic collisions. Theories that propose alternative notions of interactions between “normal” matter and gravity---such as the idea that the “constant-ness” of gravity/mass interactions breaks down at extremely large scales such as galaxies---would evidently have trouble explaining the results.

My Way News - Astronomers Say Pluto Is Not a Planet
Tiresome semantic bickering among astronomers and a nearly infinite number of moronic jokes on news broadcasts about the “shrinking solar system”aside, Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery is actually even more significant than the finding of “just another planet”. Pluto was the first known example of a whole new class of solar-system objects and real estate---now known as the Kuiper Belt.

It’s Sony again....
My Way News - Lithium-Ion Technology in the Spotlight
Not apparently wanting to be remembered fondly only for its use of intrusive, pirated rootkit spyware applications to “protect” its music interests from piracy, Sony has perhaps “topped” itself. Sony’s distribution of defective, sometimes burning or even expoding laptop batteries has forced Dell and Apple to recall nearly 6 million computers.


Warning! Incoming Movie Review
I’m way behind on the movie reviews. I just finally saw “Hoodwinked”, an alternative viewpoint of the classic Red Riding Hood tale. In spite of the dated animation (they must have done Red first---she looks like a game animation) it was completely unexpectedly extremely clever, another of those movies not to be watched if you have any cardiac or respiratory deficiencies or while drinking milk.
One of the most stress-testing moments for me was the mountain goat with a collection of interchangable horns who has to sing everything and doesn’t get many visitors, voice-acted by Benjy Gaither, who was raised by Gospel singers.
Unlike the “Shrek” franchise which most critics used for comparison, “Hoodwinked” manages to be hilarious without the ubiquitous, crude humor which has become the industry standard for “childrens’ movies”.

Wolf: “What can I say? I was raised by wolves.”

Wolf: “Those are really bright! What kind of candles are those?”
Twitchy the Squirrel: “Deen-a-mee-tay! Must be Italian!”
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