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Animated: How a Handgun Works

The model 1911 handgun is named for the year it was formally adopted by the U.S. Army – and while it was replaced as an official service weapon in 1985, it’s still massively popular. Various manufacturers have created their own take on the 1911, but its basic function and operation remains in place over 100 years after its inception.





This Day in History: Ron Evans Space Walk, Dec 17, 1972, One Hour, 7 Minutes, 18 Seconds


December 17, 1972 — Apollo 17 astronaut Ron Evans takes a spacewalk outside the command module during the trans-Earth coast  to home. He is retrieving film cassettes, a mapping camera, and panoramic camera. The total time for his EVA was one hour, seven minutes, 18 seconds.

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Wedge of Tomorrow: 20 of the Greatest Sports Cars of the ’70s and ’80s


The soft, gentle and voluptuous curves of traditional automotive design made a radical right turn in the late 1960s, when cars like the Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo concept by Bertone introduced the rising wedge line. The look was futuristic, cool, and first embraced by a handful of production Italian exotics. But soon the entire automotive industry caught on, and from the 1970s through the mid-1980s, nearly every new sports car had a pointy nose and pop-up headlamps. Here are 20 of the most memorable — a group of cars that envisioned an angular future….(read more)


[PHOTO] Margaret Hamilton: Code Pioneer



Margaret Hamilton is a computer scientist and mathematician. She was the lead software engineer for Project Apollo.  Her work prevented an abort of the Apollo 11 moon landing. She’s also credited for coining the term “software engineer.”

Those stacks are the code she wrote for Apollo 11. Incredible.

nowonlyghosts – mudwerksmudwerks – drtuesdaygjohnson

SpaceX Will Try to Land Falcon 9 Rocket on Floating Platform Next Week


Space.com Senior Writer Mike Wall, reports: SpaceX will apparently attempt something truly epic during next week’s cargo launch to the International Space Station.

During the Dec. 16 launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which will send SpaceX’s robotic Dragon capsule toward the orbiting lab, the California-based company will try to bring the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket back to Earth for a controlled landing on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean.

“There are a lot of launches that will occur over the next year. I think it’s quite likely that [on] one of those flights, we’ll be able to land and refly, so I think we’re quite close.”

– Elon Musk

The bold maneuver marks a big step forward in SpaceX’s development of reusable-rocket technology, which the company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, says could eventually cut the cost of spaceflight by a factor of 100 and perhaps make Mars colonization economically feasible. [SpaceX’s Quest For Rocketry’s Holy Grail: Exclusive Video]

A photo of the "autonomous spaceport drone ship" on which SpaceX will attempt  Credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX

A photo of the “autonomous spaceport drone ship” on which SpaceX will attempt
Credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX

Musk shared photos of the Falcon 9 and landing platform via Twitter late last month, ratcheting up interest in the cargo mission, the fifth of 12 unmanned resupply flights SpaceX will make to the space station for NASA under a $1.6 billion contract. Read the rest of this entry »

The Most Beautiful Space Photos Of 2013

The Butcher:

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The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometers are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometers are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometers are projected as red. In this scheme, red indicates low clouds and green indicates high ones.

The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometers are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometers are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometers are projected as […]

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On the way to the Moon, 1972

[VIDEO] Success: Orion Splashes Down After First, 2-Orbit Test Flight

NASA’s Orion capsule has splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after its first, unmanned, two-orbit test flight.

It came down on the surface of the ocean at 11:29 a.m. ET about 270 miles off the coast of Baja California, NASA said.

NASA’s new Orion spacecraft lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral and rocketed to orbit Friday morning — the first test flight for a program that NASA hopes eventually will get astronauts to asteroids and Mars.

The 4½-hour, uncrewed, two-orbit flight is taking Orion farther from Earth than any craft designed for human flight has been since the Apollo 17 mission to the moon in 1972.

“The launch itself (was) just a blast,” NASA Orion program manager Mark Geyer quipped on NASA TV shortly after liftoff, “as you see how well the rocket did. It was exciting to see.”


The Delta IV Heavy rocket lifted off at 7:05 a.m. ET and put the capsule and the rocket’s second stage into low-Earth orbit less than 20 minutes later.

Then, two hours later, a milestone: The second stage lifted Orion higher for its second orbit, expected to be about 3,600 miles above Earth, or 15 times higher than the International Space Station. Read the rest of this entry »

How Your Cell Phone Distracts You Even When You’re Not Using It

Originally posted on TIME:

Even if you go all day without touching your cell phone once, just having it visible nearby may distract you from complex tasks, according to new research in the journal Social Psychology.

In the first part of the study, which looked at a group of more than 50 college students, participants were asked to complete different motor tasks with the study leader’s cell phone visible. In the second, participants completed motor tasks with their own cell phones visible. Performance on complex tasks suffered in both conditions when compared to control groups with no visible cell phone.

The sight of a cell phone reminds people of the “broader social community” they can access via texting and the internet, says study author Bill Thornton.

MORE:Why People Text And Drive Even When They Know It’s Dangerous

“With the presence of the phone, you’re wondering what those people are doing,” says Thornton…

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[PHOTO] Rocketdyne F1 Engine

Rocketdyne F1 Engine


Everything You Need to Know About NASA’s Orion, the Spacecraft That Could Take Humanity to Mars


At 7:05 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, December 4, an unmanned, unpressurized version of NASA’s Orion crew capsule will lift off from Cape Canaveral for its first test flight, called Exploration Flight Test-1. This will mark the debut of the first new NASA spacecraft meant to fly astronauts since the Space Shuttle took flight in the early 1980s. And while this first flight will be unmanned, it will see a crew capsule travel farther from the planet’s surface than any manned vehicle design has gone since the Apollo moon mission…(read more)

Popular Mechanics

Scientists Create Lab-Grown Spinal Cords

B0001720 Expression of the sonic hedgehog gene

As regenerative medicine and stem cell technologies continue to progress, so the list of tissues and organs that can be grown from scratch – and potentially replaced – continues to grow. In the past few years, researchers have used stem cells to grow windpipes, bladders, urethras and vaginas in the lab, and, in some cases, successfully transplanted them into patients.

Others are making progress in growing liver and heart tissue; one team in London is busy growing blood vessels, noses and ears; and some have even managed to grow tiny chunks of brain tissue, the most complex of all the tissues in the human body. Now, researchers in Germany report that they have grown complete spinal cords from embryonic stem cells.

Most efforts to grow tissues and organs rely on biodegradable scaffolds. When ‘seeded’ with a patient’s stem cells, these scaffolds provide a surface for the cells to latch on to and provide them with nutrients. The scaffold delivers the signals needed for the stem cells to differentiate along the correct path, and its structure coaxes them to form tissue of the right shape.

Nervous tissue is extremely complex, however. It starts off as a flat sheet of cells on the top surface of the embryo, called the neural plate, which, through a series of elaborate deformations, buckles and folds in on itself to form a hollow tube. One end of this neural tube will eventually form the brain, and the other the spinal cord. This complexity makes scaffolds unsuitable for growing nervous tissue, as they cannot be manufactured in the intricate shapes needed.

Andrea Meinhardt of the Dresden University of Technology and her colleagues therefore exploited a property of stem cells known as self-directed morphogenesis, first discovered by the late Yoshiki Sasai. About 10 years ago, Sasai and his colleagues developed a method for growing embryonic stem cells in three-dimensional suspension, and found that cells grown in this way can, when fed the right combination of signalling molecules, go through the motions of development and organize themselves to form complex tissues such as eyes, glands and bits of brain.

Meinhardt and her colleagues used a variation of Sasai’s technique, and embedded single-cell suspensions of mouse embryonic stem cells within a three-dimensional nutrient gel on Petri dishes. When left untreated, the cells begin to differentiate into immature neurons, giving rise to spherical structures containing immature cells resembling those found in the neural plate. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] Nostalgia: Old-School Game Music Performed by Floppy Drive Orchestra

Space Dump

Three interesting stories from Parabolic Arc, a great site covering “New Space:”


Burt Rutan, arguably the greatest living aerospace engineer and designer of the SpaceShip One and SpaceShip Two vehicles, expresses the opinion that all the evidence is pointing to: The loss of the SpaceShip Two vehicle was due to pilot error. And here’s Bill Whittle, former aerospace journalist and now political commentator, on how things like this happen — and why they have to:


Elon Musk provides some new details on how SpaceX will recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.  Spoiler: It’s amazingly cool.


Finally, here’s an article about something I’ve been hearing about for years: A physicist who seems to have developed a true “reactionless drive,” a staple of science fiction.  It’s only at the miniature demonstrations stage but, as this longer article at Boing Boing describes, the theoretical foundation for the work seems sound.  Well worth reading.

[PHOTOS] Micro-Photography of Individual Snowflakes by Alexey Kljatov

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[VIDEO] Newly Released Remote Camera Footage of the Antares Rocket Explosion

China’s Mysterious ‘Dark Sword’ Could Become World’s First Supersonic Drone


China’s mysterious “Dark Sword” combat drone could become the world’s first supersonic unmanned aviation vehicle, reports the website of the country’s national broadcaster CCTV.

The Dark Sword — known in Chinese as “Anjian” — made quite a stir in 2006 when a conceptual model of the unusually shaped triangular aircraft made its debut at the Zhuhai Airshow in southern China’s Guangdong province.

The model was subsequently exhibited at the Paris Air Show but has disappeared from future airshows, with no official word on the development of the UAV. Some claim the project has already been scrapped due to insufficient funding or other reasons, while others believe the development of the drone is now being kept secret as it is undergoing further research and testing.

Chinese aviation expert Fu Qianshao told CCTV that while he does not know the status of the Dark Sword project, the drone could become the world’s first supersonic UAV if it proves a success. He said he would not be surprised if the project is still ongoing in secret as a lack of transparency is nothing new for the aviation industry and is an approach commonly taken by the Americans.

Fu believes even conceptual models of aircraft can reveal something about a country’s technology and the quality of its research and development, adding that analyzing models at Zhuhai can allow experts to gauge the pulse of China’s aviation industry and pick up data that may be more valuable than what the developers are leaking out to the public. Read the rest of this entry »

First Espresso in Space


This Is the First Espresso Machine In Space

The International Space Station is getting a fresh jolt with the first coffee machine aboard the station. The world of instant powdered coffee is giving way in low earth orbit to freshly brewed Italian espresso.


Vintage Fiction: ‘Science Wonder Stories’


The Wonders of Space


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