Monthly Archives: May 2013

NASA technology (52)


Launching Balloons to Study Space Weather

NASA – In Antarctica in January, 2013 – the summer at the South Pole – scientists released 20 balloons, each eight stories tall, into the air to help answer an enduring space weather question: when the giant radiation belts surrounding Earth lose material, where do the extra particles actually go?

This NASA-funded mission is called BARREL, for Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses. Each balloon launched by the BARREL team floated for anywhere from three to 40 days, measuring X-rays produced by fast-moving electrons high up in the atmosphere.

BARREL works hand in hand with another NASA mission called the Van Allen Probes, which travels directly through the Van Allen radiation belts. The belts wax and wane over time in response to incoming energy and material from the sun, sometimes intensifying the radiation through which satellites orbiting Earth must travel. Scientists need to understand this process better, and even provide forecasts of such space weather, in order to protect our spacecraft.

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Seeking a smarter approach to the budget


By Senator Roy Blunt – Sequestration grew out of a political impasse: Republicans refused to raise the government’s borrowing limit in 2011 without starting to bring spending under control, but Democrats refused to make choices about where to cut spending.

So the president devised sequestration, on the theory that cutting spending in such a painful and dumb way would force Republicans to raise taxes. Spending on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare was mostly spared, but other programs, particularly defense, got across-the-board cuts.

Both sides should now agree that it is better to spend the same amount of money intelligently and deliberately rather than according to the sequester’s mechanical formula. more> http://tinyurl.com/mutq9ft

The Banality of Deeper Learning


BOOK REVIEW

The Schools We Need: And Why We Don’t Have Them, Author: E.D. Hirsch.

By Tom Loveless – Deeper Learning is the current term for an old idea. The notion is that schools spend too much time focused on the acquisition of knowledge, especially knowing facts.

Published in 1996, E.D. Hirsch’s The Schools We Need: And Why We Don’t Have Them, pre-dates today’s deeper learning fad but convincingly rebuts its twentieth century ancestors, showing not only that these anti-knowledge movements lack anything resembling evidentiary support for their claims, but that they also, in disparaging academic content taught in public schools, exacerbate social inequality.

The premise is simple. If public schools don’t teach algebra or chemistry or history or great literature or how to write well—the old-fashioned learning that has been around for centuries and remains high status knowledge in most cultures—rich kids will get it somewhere else. Poor kids won’t. more> http://tinyurl.com/ng2sloe

Updates from BOEING


Boeing, American Airlines, FAA collaborate on 737 ecoDemonstrator Airplane
Boeing – The 2012 ecoDemonstrator program is a partnership between Boeing, American Airlines, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The ecoDemonstrator illustrates how we’re pursuing technologies and advanced materials that make airplanes operate more efficiently and produce fewer emissions and less noise,” said John Tracy, Boeing chief technology officer. “I am proud of the leadership role that Boeing is playing in advancing the science of aerospace and demonstrating the value of these technologies to our airline customers, the flying public, and to society at large.”

American Airlines is loaning a new Next-Generation 737-800 to Boeing to serve as the testbed for these advanced technologies. The flight testing completed in Glasgow allowed Boeing engineers to gather volumes of data about the viability of each technology. After testing is complete, the airplane will be returned to standard configuration and delivered to American.

“At American Airlines, we are working diligently to improve our carbon footprint. Reducing noise pollution, conserving fuel and waste minimization are just a few of the areas where we are making progress,” said David Campbell, vice president of Safety, Security, and Environmental for American Airlines. “This is why it is so crucial for us to participate in programs like the ecoDemonstrator, so that we can test technologies that will continue to improve not only American’s environmental performance, but our entire industry as well. We remain committed to doing our part to be good stewards for the environment.”

The FAA program known as CLEEN (Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise) provided funding for the adaptive trailing edge on the airplane as well as some flight test costs. more> http://tinyurl.com/po2c6j8

Wall St. on the silver screen: Pros pick top movies


By Chris Taylor – In the annals of Hollywood, Wall Street has not been treated very kindly.

From “Wall Street” to “Boiler Room”, “Trading Places” to “American Psycho”, the halls of finance are usually portrayed as places of shiny excesses and dark hearts.

Now buzz is building over a new contender, which could become one of the defining films of Wall Street. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is slated to come out this November. more> http://tinyurl.com/pnupcjq

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CONGRESS WATCH Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, US Congress House Oversight Committee to Hold IRS Hearing Tomorrow, US Congress DesJarlais to Participate in House Oversight Committee Hearing on Benghazi, US Congress

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CONGRESS WATCH A Minute with Jay: Memorial Day, YouTube [VIDEO 1:01]