Maurizio – Omnologos

Where no subject is left unturned


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As microblogged live on my (other) Twitter account, @mmorabito67 on May 25, 2011:

  1. At the BIS British Interplanetary Society in London for Alan Lawrie’s SaturnV presentation. live microblogging 6pm GMT
  2. Title is “Saturn V Manufacturing and testing” – room packed
  3. Special anniversary of Kennedy’s announcement of the Moon attempt in 1961
  4. Lawrie has 30 years of space technology experience
  5. Kennedy spoke at around 1.09pm EDT – Also 45th of first full rocket
  6. Mastermind was Von Braun – developed in record time, new materials invented
  7. Huntsville Al. was a small city when Von Braun went there in the 1950s –
  8. Picture of Von Braun team member meeting Korolev’s daughter –
  9. Saturn was a military concept for testing rockets at the start –
  10. Pictures of Marshall Spaceflight Center test facilities –
  11. RL10 h2 / o2 rocket test facility. Neosho rocket production facility in Missouri near Joplin –
  12. Details of rocket. First stage S-1C by Boeing and MSF.
  13. Welded tanks but bolted intertanks. Manufacturing details. Fairings around external engines blown after separation
  14. Pictures of retrorockets firing –
  15. S-1C firing test at MSF. Walt Disney visiting Huntsville
  16. Picture of Saturn V in test stand
  17. People measuring rocket’s vibrational modes by pushing it – same happened for Ares –
  18. Stage built vertically but engines inserted horizontally –
  19. First stage of Apollo 16 caught fire during tests. Engineers forced to look at the failed parts.
  20. S-II second stage by NAA in California. Not kerosene but hydrogen. One tank with one bulkhead within
  21. Testing at same Mississippi facility still used
  22. Story of mistaken loading to explosion due to incorrect procedures
  23. First stage o2 not insulated but second h2 had to be. Several attempts up to Apollo 13.
  24. Third stage S-IV B similar to second stage but one engine.
  25. Tanks hemispherical in 3rd ellipsoidal in 1st and 2nd
  26. 2nd stage external insulation strong metal inside. 3rd stage insulation inside by tiles that didn’t fall off.
  27. Picture of Skylab being built out of 3rd stage
  28. Explosion in Jan 1967 of S-IVB-503 3rd stage one week before Apollo 1.- problem with Helium tanks
  29. Problem with welding of He tanks.
  30. Pictures comparing sites in 1967 and 2006 –
  31. F-1 rocket engines – tested at Edwards
  32. J-2 tested near Hollywood
  33. Overview of Saturn V flights. Second flight not so well (Apollo 6) with 2 lost engines then Apollo 8
  34. Apollo 8 – a major structural failuree in California a day earlier but launched anyway
  35. Pictures of test firings of Apollo 11. Lightning striking Apollo 12. Apollo 17 3rd stage never test fired.
  36. How did they make it so perfect? Leadership, mindset. Von Braun and other German managers
  37. Many things worked by dodging bullets
  38. Personally I would not be surprised the programme was stopped before a major accident would kill it and spaceflight

The lecture followed the publication of “Saturn” by Alan Lawrie with Robert Godwin.

Written by omnologos

2011/Jun/12 at 22:15:09

Surefire way to avoid all risks

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According to the World Health Organization, mobile (cell) phones “may cause cancer”. However, there’s no established link. Still, it could be a possibility. It could also not be.

Therefore a bunch of experts have decided to warn the public with the non-news. Maybe that’s the “ethical” thing to do.

But if that’s true, then we should warn the public about a far more certain risk. You see, it can be easily established that the one thing in common among people that die, is that they were alive in the first place.

Armed with this incredible revelation, the WHO experts will soon recommend us all not to be born at all.

Written by omnologos

2011/Jun/02 at 07:57:21

Posted in Science, Skepticism

Palin For President

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There are two things going for Sarah Palin. Apart from a following among middle-aged men that is (doesn’t look like the typical grandma, does she).

One, “Sarah Palin” has been portrayed such a mindless idiot, she’ll earn points just by reading the time right, out of a talking clock. There is a great advantage in lowering expectations.

Two, she’ll have a very easy time convincing people that it’s the Press that paints her in a negative light. So during a campaign, if there’ll be a campaign, she will describe all of her faux-pas and gaffes as “don’t listen to that, it’s just the evil Press”. Even the real faux-pas and gaffes, that is.

IOW on all fronts she will be able to say or do anything without fear of losing score with anybody in the electorate (unless she’s photographed kicking a puppy or slapping her mom). Every additional day will be a day with more supporters.

It’s developing in the classical shoo-in…

Written by omnologos

2011/Jun/01 at 10:11:13

Posted in America, USA

Do You Think You’re Important?

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(as my contribution to the Total Perspective Vortex, this is the transcript of my Apr 4th, 2011 10-min podcast for, titled “A Copernican Gallop“)

Today we are going to have a Copernican Gallop. We are going to see how Astronomy has made us absolutely irrelevant. What have Astronomers done to us, in fact? Some say that Astronomy must be the important of all Sciences. Perhaps we wouldn’t even have Modern Science without Astronomy. But think also that…were it not for the extraordinary progress of 400 hundred years of astronomy, we would still believe to be the center of the cosmos…instead. we’re now sure we’re not. Not at all. Not by a long shot. And nothing we do is any special (physically speaking), and we actually are in a nondescript part of the Universe. Worse, the Universe itself might be just one of many.

Less than zilch, that’s what we are. And thanks to whom? Well, thanks to the..Astronomers!! None of the major philosophers and religious leaders in the history of humanity has remotely approached the ruthless efficiency with which the scholars of the cosmos have demonstrated again, and again and again what little piece of nothingness we actually are. Only to be replaced by another generation of astronomers, busying themselves in demonstrating that the previous notion of us being nothing, was actually a gross overstatement.

Who started this descent, or maybe you can call it ascent, an ascent to humility? Why, somebody called Niclas Koppernigk, known to us as Nicolaus Copernicus.

Imagine yourself then at his times. It’s around 1500, it’s the Renaissance, and Man is the center of everything. People are defining themselves as the middle point, like the Earth, the center between the perfection of Heaven and the imperfection of Hell. Everything is theirs for the taking, and now that the ancient philosophers of Greece are being rediscovered, it surely won’t take much before the whole world is understood. There comes Nicolaus, instead, no Santa Claus, him…he toppled Earth from the center, in his posthumous book “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres”. And if the center is not here, we’re not the center either. Bye bye Renaissance men!

Worse, Copernicus played like the first ever giant Angry Birds game. He managed to start an incredible chain reaction that might (or might not) have just ended. First stop in the chain reaction, of course, Galileo Galilei with his observations of Venus in the year 1610 demonstrating that planets orbit the Sun, not the Earth. Then Newton, extraordinarily linking in 1687 the force that pushes us down with the force that keeps planets and satellites in their orbit.

Can you imagine? By this time, the revolutionary idea was taking hold, that Earth and the heavens obey the same laws. Let’s continue: Herschel’s map of the Galaxy in 1785, with the Sun located not exactly at the center. Kirchhoff and Bunsen developing spectroscopy in 1859, thereby helping us understand what the stars are made of, the same stuff as the Sun: in other words, determining that the Sun is just another ordinary star, made of more or less the same elements as any other and with billions of almost identical twins out there.

Move now to Harlow Shapley working on Globular Clusters, clusters of stars that is, showing in 1921 how they are distributed around a point some 15kpc from us, the center of the Galaxy therefore being quite away from our Solar System. Even our modern value of 8kpc between us and the galactic center still means we’re somewhere at the periphery.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant in 1755 and then the scientist Alexander von Humboldt in 1845 already made the point that as the Sun is in no special place in the Galaxy, our Galaxy is itself just one of many. And that’s exactly what a guy called Edwin Hubble demonstrated, in 1924.

But wait…isn’t that the same Hubble that came up with the idea of an expanding universe? Is that not supporting a birth for everything in what we call the “Big Bang”? Doesn’t that make us special, as we’re only 13 billion years away from it, that is next to nothing compared to quadrillions of quadrillions of years until the last photon is emitted?

Not so fast. One of the most popular ideas in contemporary cosmology is in fact the existence of a multiverse, a collection of universes just like ours, a concept that elucidates several issues including why our universe exists at all. Some say the number of universes is in the region of 10 to the 500, a number that is totally alien from all our levels of comprehension. Obviously, even if a minute fraction of that number is the true value for a count of all existing universes, our own universe is just, simply, merely one of several many. End of the story?

No. This humility extravaganza doesn’t only work at giant scales. Consider the consequence of finding as many extrasolar planets as we’ve actually discovered as yet…our own doesn’t appear to be either the strangest, or the most interesting (more or less the only thing keeping Earth apart is the existence of liquid water on its surface:
but I would expect a dramatic announcement about that too, sometimes in the near future).

Everywhere we look, at all times we look, we’re one of many.

Let me speak for the rest – we live on just another planet orbiting just another star in just another orbit around just another galaxy weakly attracted to just another supercluster that is anywhere and nowhere really in one universe out of quadrillions of pentillions of them.

And this is the end of the Copernican Gallop. Or is it? An atom in the whole Jupiter is relatively more important than us in the whole of the Cosmos. To what level of nothingness will next generation of astronomers elevate us?

One final word…please. Don’t feel depressed. It doesn’t count, anyway. And this is just another podcast by Omnologos. Thank you for listening.

Written by omnologos

2011/Apr/28 at 12:20:28

Posted in Astronomy, Astronomy & Space, Space

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Project Icarus: Aiming for the Stars – podcast by Maurizio Morabito

leave a comment » is hosting today 24 March 2011 my third podcast (with transcript): “Project Icarus: Aiming for the Stars” with guest Kelvin Long of Icarus Interstellar.Project Icarus: Aiming for the Stars – podcast by Maurizio Morabito

Written by omnologos

2011/Mar/24 at 17:29:03

Prince Andrew, the latest victim of…Aiscophilia

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Prince Andrew linked to sex predator. And it’s not even Koo Stark. Big news? Shouldn’t be, really.

Aiscophilia, the (genetic?) predisposition for getting oneself entangled in a scandal, has been plaguing the British Royal Family for a long time: Harry the Nazi in 2005, the violent serial urinating cousin head of the House of Hanover, Edward the abdicating King of 1936, Albert Victor “the dissipated” grandchild of Queen Victoria.

And Philip too. Of course, he’s family too: third cousin to Elizabeth.

Blame the genes!!!

Written by omnologos

2011/Mar/08 at 10:34:22

Posted in UK

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Worried about the future?

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Here’s the one thing not to worry about: there will always be an inexhaustible supply of people telling the rest of the world that things are going in the wrong direction.

A quick look at the New York Times’ archives comes up with similar thoughts in 1921, 1931, 1979, 1981

Anyway, present-day “collapse of civilization” fears can be traced back to 1885. I guess at least that bit of “civilization” never collapses..

Written by omnologos

2011/Mar/05 at 13:07:26

Posted in Uncategorized