Diva Plavalaguna’s aria from Fifth Element made a pretty significant impression on a lot of people when it came out, because at the time, the tremendous range and vocal agility weren’t considered humanly possible. This was actually planned for when the song was written, and after the actual recording, samples of the singer’s voice were to be edited and used to fill in the “impossible” bits. Originally, the expectation was that only around 60% of the song was actually possible to sing. However, the singer – Albanian opera singer Inva Mula – managed to sing 85% of what the composer believed to be impossible, leaving only a small amount of digital finishing to complete the song. Listening to it, however, those digitally edited parts are fairly noticeable and actually sound more like they’re being played by a synthesizer using a voice sample.
Well, people have had time to practice, and you can now find several attempts at live performances of this song, with or without the aid of autotune. Some are… less than spectacular. This one though, by Jane Zhang… while she does miss a couple minor spots to nail it 100%, she does an incredible job. If any autotune was used to help her, it was masterfully done, because I can’t hear it (and I can usually tell).
We all know by now that there are still some people out there adamant that, despite all the proof available through physics, geometry, and even evidence left on the moon in the form of mirrors you can bounce laser beams back from to show that we really have been there, the earth we live on is flat even while every other planet in the galaxy/universe is round. I have no idea what there is to be gained in assuming we’re the only flat planet anywhere, but some people believe that.
Well, apparently there are conspiracies in everything, because there are some who believe that the platypus is a fake animal. The argument here is that God would never have created an animal like this (apparently… but why not?), and it was just invented by scientists to push their fraudulent agenda of evolution. The platypus is apparently just a beaver with a prosthetic bill and feet, and fur added to its tail. When you see a platypus rooting around at the bottom of a stream or in someone’s hand or something, it’s not using its super-sensitive bill to detect minute electrical signals from prey as it hunts for food, it’s trying to rub its uncomfortable prosthetic off.
To be fair, even some scientists believed the platypus to be a hoax as well until relatively recently, and these modern platypus deniers are mostly just playing off of those original ideas. However, this is one “hoax” that can be fully proven. It is observable that platypus lay eggs (beavers bear live young like most mammals), platypus can be dissected to show that the bill really is not a prosthetic, and that the structures of a beaver and a platypus are indeed different, that those really are their actual feet rather than prosthetics, and so on. It just amazes me how it seems so easy for some people to outright disregard scientific proof of things just because it doesn’t mesh with their pre-existing ideas. Then again, I’ve seen some studies that have pointed out the best way to persuade someone to change their mind is not actually to just bury them with scientific proof. Researchers recently found that the best way to change the mind of an anti-vaxxer, for instance, is not through scientific proof, but by showing them pictures of children suffering from preventable diseases such as measles. I don’t know if there might be an equivalent method for flat earthers or platypus deniers. Then again, I almost wonder if some of these guys – like the one narrating this video – know the truth full well and are just trolling to see how many suckers agree with them. I could totally see this video as a 4-chan prank.
I have a general understanding of physics, but Elon Musk somehow manages to explain several elements of rocket science that just never really registered with me before. Things like why we refer to escape velocity rather than escape altitude. To get away from earth’s gravity, spaceships don’t just launch straight up. Very soon after launch, basically all rockets tilt over at an angle, and begin accelerating themselves around the earth. At some point, they manage to get going fast enough to overcome earth’s gravity and sort of slingshot away from the planet, similar to if you were spinning a tennis ball at the end of a rope and let it go. Or, if they’re putting something into orbit, they simply have to reach a speed where the outward force of the object “spinning” around the earth just offsets the pull of gravity. Any faster around the earth and they’d escape the gravitational pull, and any slower would send them tumbling back to earth. For reference, the International Space Station orbits the earth at roughly 25 times faster than the speed of a bullet from a .45 handgun.
A cool mental image he used as an analogy to escape velocity is a coin funnel – typically, when you drop a coin in, it starts out slow while it’s far away from the center, and speeds up as it gets toward the middle. If you wanted that coin to escape from the inward/downward pull, you’d need to spin it just a little bit faster so it would roll *up* that funnel instead of down. That’s basically the same concept rockets use to get away from earth rather than just going straight up.
Some of the other concepts he brought up, specific to why a drone ship is used to land rockets rather than just sending them back to where they launched from, actually make good sense too, and use concepts I did already know. I suppose I always imagined that launches were more or less straight up, and they ended up off-center due to the rotation of the earth. Fact is, it’s unlikely the rocket could ever overcome gravity by pushing straight up – they get much better speed going around the earth until they can break away. Because of this, as mentioned earlier, the rockets tilt over and aren’t going straight up. This quickly pulls them away from their launch point. The main stage of the rocket breaks away only once it is in the thinnest remainder of atmosphere, so it has virtually no wind resistance to help slow it. To return to its launch point, it would have to carry enough fuel to do its job launching the space vehicle, then use roughly that same amount of fuel to stop its forward motion, and then that same amount again to return it back to its launch site and land – three times the fuel needed to get to the release point. Instead, it will use a combination of fins and rockets to control its specific orientation and just follow the trajectory of its arc as it allows gravity to pull it back down, guiding itself to the small area where the drone ship is already waiting. A much more efficient (and physically possible) use of fuel.
Somehow even the parts you may have already known seem interesting, so this video is totally worth a watch.
OK, I seriously don’t have time to be posting at the moment, so don’t tell anyone I took a break, k? I couldn’t pass up posting this video from this morning’s test flight of the Falcon Heavy. This is the rocket planned to send people and equipment to Mars, with a lift capacity of up to 63,800 kg, as opposed to the Falcon 9’s 22,800 kg. This particular launch carried Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster, “driven” by a dummy in a space suit. The flight appears to have been a complete success, with each element happening precisely when expected. It was particularly impressive watching both boosters land simultaneously with near-pinpoint precision on their respective landing pads.
Jump ahead to the 29-minute mark if you just want to pick up from the countdown and launch.
A Norwegian flight carrying 85 plumbers heading to a convention had to return to the airport just 20 minutes after takeoff, due to a problem with one of the plane’s lavatories. After returning to the airport, the plane had to circle for a while to burn off fuel enough to land safely, around an hour after takeoff.
It sounds funny, but like most stories like this, there’s a perfectly logical explanation. As much as the plumbers would have loved to fix the problem – and it sounds like some tried – the issue ultimately had to be fixed from outside the plane, which is tough to do at 30,000 feet. That doesn’t make the whole incident any less ironic though.
[via The Telegraph]
Hey everyone… I’m super sorry it’s been another 7 days since the last post. Life has just been insanely busy recently, and I’ve had very little free time for this or any of my other hobbies. Working a greater-than-40-hour week lately, plus easily an additional 20+ hours a week dedicated to fire department stuff thanks to the fire academy running through June, and most of my remaining free time has been dedicated to getting things done at home. Still, I’m taking out a bit of free time as I’m able to keep things going here, if not as frequently as I like.
And that brings us back to a previous and ongoing appeal – if any of you are interested in sharing content and becoming a contributor, let us know in the comments. I’ll say I’m not currently sure exactly how all that will work, because I have not been able to reach Colin or Elliot for months, and don’t know the status of either of them – both had been dealing with health issues though. They are the ones with access to the DotD email address; however, I do have administrator privileges for DotD, and it looks like I’m able to add new users. Worst case, I can always set up a new DotD email to use for administrative purposes. It’s an interesting position to be in – I had initially joined DotD as a sort of adjunct contributor due to a typically busy schedule, and find myself now the sole contributor. It’s lonely here at the top, so I’d welcome anyone interested in chipping in! It’s not like there’s a major time commitment – I mean, look how (in)frequently I’ve been able to post recently. It would totally be open to just as you’re able. Anyway, give it a thought, and if you’re interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll arrange a way to communicate and get things set up. I can also show you how to use WordPress and how our posts are set up, if necessary.
That said, some links I’ve run across the past week or so to kick the week off…
Here’s hoping it’s not another 7 days before I have time to post again!
This is definitely not your grandpa’s paper airplane. It probably won’t actually be flying any time soon, but this has got to be the msot detailed paper airplane ever made – it has a level of detail that would probably put even architects to shame (I should know – I studied architecture and have plenty of experience in model building). This scale model of a Boeing 777 includes some pretty amazing working features, including cabin doors that accurately pop out and slide open, and even movable, retractable landing gear with movable shocks. And the crazy part is that all of this has been made with nothing but manila folders, glue, exacto blades, and straight edges. It doesn’t have wings yet, but those are coming along too – complete with accurately extending flaps and movable flight surfaces, and engines with moving parts – all paper.
All I can say is this is awesome, and the guy is lucky he found a hobby that’s actually relatively inexpensive compared to a lot of them out there.