With John traveling today, here’s another random assortment of open thread fun.
The stories range from dinosaur feathers to spaceship simulation games to the day when the United States very nearly nuked itself.
An omni-directional treadmill for computer gamers. Hmm… Anyway, speaking of gaming, there’s a name familiar to us gaming oldsters: Chris Roberts. While at Origin Systems, he was lead developer for what was (back then) a groundbreaking PC video game called Wing Commander. It was tremendously popular, chewed up more hours of my life than I care to admit, and resulted in several sequels. In the late 90s, Wing Commander was declared one of the top ten PC video games ever made. He was involved in other space-exploration games including Privateer and ‘Freelancer’ (2003) — but left after his company, Digital Anvil, was purchased by Microsoft.
Now, Roberts has decided he wants to create the game he’s always wanted to produce: Star Citizen. The fascinating detail is he’s doing it all as a Kickstarter project — and has raised nearly $20m through what his company, Roberts Space Industries, is calling Founder donations. As a Founder myself, here’s hoping it won’t turn into vaporware… If it does fly, you’ll probably find me piloting as big a cargo carrier as I can afford.
For a long time, there was a big debate — among astronomers anyway — as to whether or not Jean-Dominique Cassini’s 17th century telescope was good enough for him to have seen the 3000 mile gap in Saturn’s rings which bear his name. A team of French researchers decided to simulate both the optics of Cassini’s telescope and the precise position of Saturn in 1675. It turns that year was the absolute most perfect time — both the angle and the size of the gap were ideal for viewing.
Medical researchers have discovered what they think is a third state of human consciousness and have called it dysanesthesia. A patient put under specific levels of anesthesia appears neither to feel nor to remember pain, nor can they spontaneously perform actions on his or her own, but can obey commands. For instance, an order to move a hand. Why is this important? The current practice for many doctors is, if the patient can obey a command to move, they often order more anesthesia — unnecessarily so. Researchers are hoping this information will help them refine anesthesia techniques.
Headlines you don’t often see: Man Performs CPR on a Wallaby.
Gretchen Carlson states the obvious: The bubble-headed spokes-blondes on Fox & Friends were forbidden to wear pants.
And then there’s this, which many of you have already heard about. 23 January 1961 was the day when two 4-megaton hydrogen bombs fell on Goldsboro, North Carolina, one of which was one crude electronic switch away from detonation.
The accident happened when a B-52 bomber got into trouble, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a routine flight along the East Coast. As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy’s Road.Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity.
Um, yeah, and this is why I simply don’t trust our government NOT to be utterly incompetent.
Anyway, consider this to be an open thread. And that all said, I can’t leave this on such a downer note, so here’s a video of a guy, Mark Sydney Johnson, who incorporates 28 famous guitar solos across 50 years into one six minute song. It’s actually damned good.