Free to Good Home: Top-Secret Ships
A lot of technology created during the Cold War ended up in museums. Now, the US Navy is trying to give away two pieces of Cold War technology that are big enough to BE museums. One is the Sea Shadow, a ship designed to be undetectable on the open sea. The other is the Hughes Mining Barge, its dry dock, which is fully submersible to keep the Sea Shadow from being seen by spy satellites.
The barge actually came first; in the early 1980s, the Navy assembled the Sea Shadow within it. Costing $195 million to build and standing some 160 feet long and 70 feet wide, it was the Navy's first experimental stealth ship. Moving at night, in addition to its many stealth features, it was enormously stable; one former crew member recalls seeing a glass of soda on the bridge barely ripple in 12-foot waves. This grandfather of all stealth ships came out for daylight tests in 1993, inspiring a plastic model and a plot device in the 1997 James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies. Its experimental life ended in 2006, and it's been waiting to be turned into a museum ever since.
Even the barge has a bit of a colorful history; 35 years ago, it was once used in an effort to raise a sunken nuclear-armed Soviet submarine. It's no surprise that at least one owner of a maritime museum would like to accept the gift but, as with anything that comes from the government, there are some strings attached. The Navy won't pay for rust scraping or curating, so keeping these ships afloat will depend on the museum drawing big crowds. Indeed, such museums have been described as a bloodthirsty, paperwork ridden, permit-infested, money-sucking hole... by the Historic Naval Ships Association, an organization that's certainly in a position to know. So sadly, this is one piece of tech history that could end up as so much scrap or sinking beneath the waves forever.
more about this
Competition to Create Moon Technology in China
You'd expect to see competitive bidding on government contracts in the US, but apparently it happens in China, too. And when it comes to space exploration, China may be doing the US one better. The government threw the door wide open to competitive bidding on building technology related its moon exploration effort. Indeed, now the country's universities, institutes, and other qualified institutions can compete.
The Guangming Daily reported China's goal to put an unmanned buggy on the moon by 2012, and stated that more than 90 elements of key technology would be needed. It quoted an unnamed administration official as saying that Our country's lunar exploration research and development project will be opened to all of society, bringing in a competitive mechanism."
The bidding will likely not be open to foreign entities. But more than 30 universities and colleges attended a meeting at which they discussed participating in the effort to explore the moon. In general, China has been making good progress on its goal; its first lunar probe completed its mission in October after successfully orbiting the moon thousands of times without landing. Will China land astronauts on the moon? That is a long-term goal for the country, but China has not announced a time table.
more about this
Yet Another Worry for Gamers
As if tough boss monsters weren't enough to worry about, PlayStation aficionados now have a new concern. Gripping the control too tightly while furiously pushing buttons can cause painful lumps on the palms, according to Swedish scientists. The new skin disorder has been dubbed PlayStation palmar hidradentitis.
One has to wonder if this is really a serious problem, however. A Sony spokesman noted that the study involved just one person. He added that his company has been making the PlayStation since 1995, and sold hundreds of millions of the consoles.
Even so, this is not the first physical illness to be connected to excessive playing of video games. Some researchers have noted that playing too much on the Nintendo Wii can lead to acute tendonitis. Others have argued that playing video games excessively should be classified as an addiction, and leads to other psychological problems. As to the new skin disorder, the patient's symptoms cleared up completely after 10 days away from the console. For those who want to avoid this problem altogether, the scientists advise giving your hands a break from time to time while playing, especially if they feel sore. Also, if you tend to get sweaty palms, it's a good idea to avoid playing excessively (several hours at a time) in the first place.
more about this