Wednesday, October 03, 2007
This morning finds me with a backlog of things I want to talk about and essentially no time to do so! The upside is that the blog practically writes itself on such occasions....
I recently encountered a very good civics literacy quiz through Jennifer Snow (who found it through Rational Jenn). I scored a 93, which is probably better than I would have scored in high school. So take that, Adrian!
Missile Tracking for Fun and Profit
Pursuant to my recent blog of Petrov Day, I learned through reader Hannes Hacker of the following interesting anecdote from the appendix of a paper on satellite tracking:
In October 1960, Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site 1 (BMEWS 1) outside of Thule, Greenland was in final preparations for going into operations (IOC). BMEWS1 was to be the US's first heavy radar to provide warning of an ICBM attack by the Soviet's newly developed capability. The BMEWS radar for IOC consisted of four AN/FPS-50 fan type radars with dual (over/under) 60 degree horizontal scanning beams. An ICBM fired from the Soviet Union to strike America normally would penetrate the lower beam and then the upper. State vectors would be generated from both penetrations, and then would be combined for a best prediction of impact time and location.And while we're re-living the Cold War, I noticed a link to the blog A Soviet Poster a Day under "Blogs of Note" as I was logging on to Blogger this morning. The title to a posting about "Soviet Champagne" sets about the right tone for that subject matter: "In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it".
The test for IOC was a team from Aerospace Defense Command (1st Aerospace Control Squadron), Colorado Springs, CO. When they turned on the fan radars for the first part of the IOC test, thousands of radar returns came in! It looked like a mass ICBM raid, and there was initial panic! Then someone noted that the Doppler on the radar returns was near zero. This meant that the "ICBMs" weren’t closing on North America. So what were the BMEWS radars seeing? Why, the Moon of course!
It turned out that the radar processing software was set up for ICBMs at ranges up to several thousand kilometers (first "main bang range"), but had no feature that would account for more distant targets -- such as the Moon, a really good radar reflector at several hundred thousand kilometers! No real damage here. After all, this was a test!
Push 'n Shove
I am thoroughly enjoying Hepcat's album, Push 'n Shove, which good friend Adrian Hester sent my way not too long ago, but which I hadn't loaded onto my iPod until just a few days ago.
Although it is not from the album, I have embedded a YouTube video of one of their songs ("No Worries") below. I'd heard that song before, but somehow never looked into who performed it or tracked down their other work.
My favorites on the album are "Prison of Love", "Beautiful", and their cover of Brenton Wood's classic, "Gimme Little Sign".