Tag Archives: NASA

We’re in the Summer News Doldrums Now…

When this is the main Yahoo headline, get ready for just about anything to show up in the news.

Octopus picks winner for World Cup!

Parakeet begs to differ!

I’ll spoil it for you, the mollusk picked Spain while the bird went for the Netherlands.  If you want the arcana on how they choose, you’ll have to read the articles.  Both of these animals have picked winners correctly in the past, but now one of them will have their reputation destroyed, while the other will appear with Jay Leno in an attempt to help him get the Tonight Show ratings back up.

Sure, yesterday Yahoo sank down to the whole Real ID thing with their usual eye for accuracy.  For example, spot at least two errors in this boilerplate at the end of the article.

World of Warcraft, which was launched in 2004, is the most popular multiplayer online role-playing game with more than 11 million monthly subscribers.

But today?

Today animals predict the outcome of a soccer game!

Meanwhile, NASA is looking into the balls being used for World Cup play.

Hey, NASA, if you want to look into something about soccer, how about figuring out a way to break a tie without that whole crappy penalty shoot-off.  Or just suggest some technologies that FIFA could look into to help them make a few less egregiously bad official calls.

Or, hey, here’s a novel idea… do something related to outer space.  The “S” in NASA stands for “Space,” not “soccer.”

Still, if you feel you have to ride along on the World Cup’s coat tails, at least tells us about what kind of reception they get in the International Space Station or throw out some theories to explain the apparent fascination cephalopods and psittacines have for the game.

(There are your vocabulary words for the day.)

What will tomorrow bring?

That is Not My Beautiful Flying Car

One of the quintessential promises of “the future” is the flying car.  It is the stuff of legend, George Jetson had one, Kevin Smith made a film short about them, Blade Runner featured them, and we all want one.

And every so often an item shows up in the new announcing a Flying Car has been created.

One such article showed up on Yahoo this past week about the Terrafugia Transition.  The headline was quite clear in calling it a flying car.

But one look at it shows that it is not a flying car.  Even the manufacturer does not call it a flying car.

Terrafugia Transition in Flight

No, this is a yet another case of the press going for sensation and/or clearly not understanding what they are reporting.

What we have here is an airplane you can drive on public streets.  In the terminology of the manufacturer, a “roadable aircraft.”  There have been a number of such designs over the years, including one based on the Ford Pinto.

Pinto Readies for Take Off

The AVE Mizar flying Pinto was even the subject of a recent Air & Space article. (Photo above from here.)

And I am not down on the concept.  If you are a pilot, having a plane you can drive home and park in the garage is a significant benefit.  You could use it to commute via air without having to have multiple vehicles.  You can also bypass the cost of having to hanger the aircraft.

But this is not the flying car, so shame on the media yet again for using that term in your headlines.  I realize it is Summer, the slow news season, but still.

No, the flying car is something you or I could drive daily without requiring anything much more complicated than a drivers license.

Fortunately, NASA has been looking our for those of us futurists who long for the flying car.  They have defined some guidelines for a real flying car, or personal air vehicle, so we’ll know when we get there.  They have even funded some prize awards to stimulate research in that direction.

But today we’re still many miles away from the flying car.

Best NASA Patch Ever

Through my Brownian motion-like web surfing activities, it came to my attention that the NASA patch/logo for its Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules may be one of their best ever.

The modules were assembled in Italy and named Leonardo, Donatello, and Raffaello to commemorate these great talents in Italian history:

  • Leonardo da Vinci, an extraordinary inventor-scientist, civil engineer, architect, artist and military planner and weapons designer
  • Donato di Niccolo Di Betto Bardi, one of the greatest sculptors of all time and one of the founders of modern sculpture
  • Raffaello Sanzio, an artist whose work stands alone for its visual achievement of human grandeur, both in clarity of form and ease of composition.

With the images that come to mind with those three… heck, with da Vinic alone… you can imagine any one of a number of possible sources they might draw upon to create an emblem.

So, of course, when NASA created a patch to represent the modules, they went straight for…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Turtles in Space!

The modules themselves have been around for nearly a decade, but the patch seems to be of more recent vintage.

Maybe not the best NASA patch ever, but still a pretty amusing one.