Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Russians in the Med

Su 33 and MiG 29K Attack IS From Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier in Med Sea

The Russians have lost a couple of jet aircraft off of their aircraft carrier that is operating in the Mediterranean Sea. They only have the one carrier. A sister ship to this one went to China, and the last of the previous class went to India. So we have three countries in Asia that their own aircraft carriers. Given the recent mishaps, they are still learning how to operate them.

The two planes that were lost off the Russian carrier were lost when the arresting cable snapped on landing. The cable snapped and the plane rolled off the flight deck. Americans don't have this problem because as soon as the aircraft touches down, the pilot gives the engines full throttle, so if the tailhook doesn't catch the cable, or the cable breaks, the aircraft can take off again. Okay, there is something funny going on here. Catching the arresting wire with the tailhook is an iffy proposition, it doesn't happen every time a plane lands. So unless the Russians have figured out a way to insure that every time an airplane touches down it will catch a wire, they need to be prepared to take off so they can go around and try again. So having a wire break should not lead to the aircraft rolling off the flight deck.

I'm thinking the loss of these aircraft is just part of the learning curve for bringing the crews up to snuff. Running an aircraft carrier successfully doesn't leave a lot of room for error, so you need to continuously practice, and practice costs money. If these other countries don't know how expensive it is to operate an aircraft carrier, they are going to find out. (It's about a million dollars a day.)

Friday, December 9, 2016


Theeb - Official UK trailer. Winner BAFTA British debut, and nominated for Foreign Language Oscar.

WWI and we've got an Englishman riding a camel in the dessert. Sounds like Lawrence of Arabia, but it's not. Lot's of desolate dessert scenery. It's pretty great. The whole thing looks a whole lot like Star Wars except no spaceships. Watching camels walk reminds me of nothing so much as the AT-AT walkers on Hoth. On Netflix.

One thing that bothered me about this movie was the deliberate contamination of wells by the bad guys. With water being so critical to survival and being in short supply in the dessert, you'd think that wells would be treated as somewhat sacred. Dumping a dead body in a well seems to not only be extremely rude, but short-sighted as well. What if you can't get back to your own well, and are forced to come back this way? But then war warps peoples minds, so maybe cutting off your water supply is okay as long as you are cutting off the other guy's. We may die of the thirst, but you guys will die too.

Pic of the Day

An atomic mushroom cloud, Las Vegas, 1953.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Muscle Shoals

TVA Wilson Dam, Muscle Shoals, Alabama
The Wilson Dam was built in the early 20th century. It generates over 600 megawatts of electricity. The government needed gunpowder for the war, so they built this dam, the attached power house and two plants for producing nitrates. WW1 ended, and the need for gunpowder went away, so the plants were converted to making fertilizer. When WW2 came along, they went back to making gunpowder, and after that they went back to making fertilizer again.

Air View of Nitrate Plant No. 2 at Muscle Shoals, AL
Wilson Dam can be seen in the background.
There is still a fertilizer factory there, though it seems to be much reduced in scale.

I was reminded of this by the similarity to the Norsk Hydro plant in The Heavy Water War - hydro power being used to generate electricity which in turn is used to make fertilizer.

The Heavy Water War

The Heavy Water War Teaser

We started watching this series on Netflix last night. It's pretty good. Back during WW2, the USA wasn't the only country trying to build an atomic bomb, Nazi Germany was working on the idea as well. 'Working' might be exaggerating their effort a bit, flailing might be a more apt description. But we didn't know how inept their efforts were, I mean the Germans are obviously very talented technically. Maybe they will succeed, and we sure don't want that, so we need to stop them if we can. Failing that we need to slow them down as much as possible, hence the raids on Norsk Hydro.

We started watching this and I'm wondering how it is that Norway has this monopoly on heavy water? Do they have some mystical spring where they get an abundance of the stuff? It took a little digging, but what I eventually figured out was that they were electrolysing water to get hydrogen so they could make fertilizer. They had built a power plant and factories, in fact a whole town, all to produce mass quantities of fertilizer.

All water contains a very small amount of heavy water, something like 0.03%. Electrolysis tends to preferentially break down light (normal) water, so after you have been running your electrolysis for a while, the water you are left with has a higher concentration of heavy water. Since heavy water is such a small percentage of natural water, in order to get useful amount of heavy water, you need to be electrolysing tons of water, which is what they were doing to Norsk Hydro.

Norsk Hydro Power Plant. The pipes running down the side of hill supply water to the turbines that drive the generators that make the electricity that is used to electrolysis the water.
There have been a number of films made about this. I saw one some time ago. There is one from 1948 available on YouTube.

Hello, Russia

A Look Inside Russia’s Creepy, Innovative Internet (Hello World: Episode 9) Bloomberg

We, and by that I mean everyone, have no idea of the extent of what computer systems are doing.

Note about this video series title: "Hello, world!" is the standard first programming problem for students. It is a test to see if you can master the basic concepts of editing a source file, getting the syntax right, and invoking the compiler. If you do all that correctly, then you can invoke your program and it will spit out "Hello, world!" on your display.

Via Detroit Steve.

Pic of the Day

Lab Rat Monument, Akademgorodok, Russia
Via Bloomberg's Hello World.