Archive for June 2016

Hubble Captures Amazing Auroras over Jupiter   Leave a comment




A month-long observation of Jupiter by the Hubble Telescope has produced some breathtaking images of the massive auroras over the planet’s poles.

Incredibly, the auroras are double the size of Jupiter’s famed ‘red spot,’ meaning that they are a jaw-dropping four times the size of Earth!

And, unlike their Earthly counterparts, the auroras of Jupiter are not a fleeting phenomenon, but are actually a constant presence on the planet.

The images are the first in what promise to be a bevy of new insights about Jupiter’s auroras as NASA’s Juno probe is expected to arrive at the planet next week to study the phenomenon.

The $1 billion dollar spacecraft has spent the last five years traveling to the planet and will be only the second manmade probe sent to Jupiter.

With such an amazing natural fireworks display at the planet’s poles, it’s only fitting that Juno’s planned date for arrival is July 4th.

Posted June 30, 2016 by markosun in Space

U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle flying at low level over Norway   Leave a comment



Cool GoPro footage shot by 492nd and 493rd Fighter Squadrons during Arctic Fighter Meet 2016.

From May 23 to 27, the 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath, trained alongside the Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish air forces during exercise Arctic Fighter Meet 2016.

Seven jets (F-15C and F-15E) from the 492nd and 493rd Fighter Squadrons deployed to Bodø airbase, Norway, to conduct BFM (basic fighter maneuvers) and DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) to improve combined air operations.

The Arctic Fighter Meet gave the U.S. pilots the opportunity to train with the “Nordics”: Finnish Air Force F-18s, Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s and Swedish Air Force Gripens. “That allows us to get a different perspective on how other aircraft maneuver because when we go to war, we don’t expect to fight other F-15s” said Maj. Nick Norgaard, the Arctic Fighter Meet 2016 project officer in a release.

The joint training gave also the Eagle pilots a chance to shoot some interesting GoPro footage.

Alaska based F-15E


An F-15E Strike Eagle flys over glacial fields during a training mission April 20 over Alaska. The F-15E is assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, which traces its history back to August 1917. The F-15E at Elmendorf AFB will soon be replaced by the F-22 Raptor. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)


“Elephant Walk” of 70 F-15E Strike Eagles of the US Air Force’s 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, April 16th 2012.



Now that is one hell of a lot of punch!


Posted June 29, 2016 by markosun in Aircraft, Aviation, Military

March of the Winnipeg Geese   Leave a comment


St. Vital Park Winnipeg




As municipal parks go, this park is a gem.




The park has become home to many gaggles of geese




The 33rd Canada Goose Regiment returning from drills


Posted June 28, 2016 by markosun in Animals, Winnipeg

That mysterious lake in the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter   7 comments



High Plains Drifter is a classic Eastwood movie from the early seventies.  I think I have seen the movie 7 or 8 times.  And every time I watch it I am mesmerized by that beautiful lake.


High Plains Drifter is a 1973 American Western film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood and produced by Robert Daley for The Malpaso Company and Universal Pictures. Eastwood plays a mysterious gunfighter hired by the residents of a corrupt frontier mining town to defend them against a group of criminals.




The film was shot on location on the shores of Mono Lake, California.

Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline soda lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. These salts also make the lake water alkaline.

This desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that thrive in its waters, and provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp.





Mono Lake

Max. length 15 km (9.3 mi)
Max. width 21 km (13 mi)
Surface area 45,133 acres (182.65 km2)
Average depth 17 m (56 ft)
Max. depth 48 m (157 ft)
Water volume 2,970,000 acre·ft (3.66 km3)
Surface elevation 6,383 ft (1,946 m) above sea level
Islands Two major: Negit Island and Paoha Island; numerous minor outcroppings (including tufa rock formations). The lake’s water level is notably variable.


Clint riding into the town of Lago, on the shore of Mono Lake.











In the movie they paint the town red to try and disorient the killers who are on their way.





The movie set (town of Lago) in the first picture, and the same location with the town gone in the second.










The most unusual feature of Mono Lake are its dramatic tufa towers emerging from the surface. These rock towers form when underwater springs rich in calcium mix with the waters of the lake, which are rich in carbonates. The resulting reaction forms limestone. Over time the buildup of limestone formed towers, and when the water level of the lake dropped the towers became exposed.










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Posted June 28, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Paul Williams sings in his ‘Planet of the Apes’ makeup   Leave a comment




Paul Williams, the witty and diminutive singer-songwriter (Carpenters, Three Dog Night)  would often appear on 70s talk shows, games shows, on The Love Boat, in Smokey and the Bandit, on The Muppet Show, celebrity roasts—not to mention his greatest role as “Swan” in Brian DePalma’s campy cult classic Phantom of the Paradise. He was in, or on just about anything back then, including heaping mountains of cocaine (Hence all of that manic energy he used to exhibit back then.)

Williams also played “Virgil” the smart orangutan in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He wore his makeup straight from the 20th Century Fox movie set for this memorable appearance promoting the film on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1973 and sang in costume.



Posted June 28, 2016 by markosun in Animals, Celebrities, Music

Weed-Eating in Summer, doesn’t get any better   Leave a comment


I worked parking lot maintenance back in the day and the best part was working the weed-eater. The weed-eater was light and easy to handle. Loose yet firm grip, and a left to right motion with fluid rhythm, and I would get totally immersed in the weed-eating moment. Okay, it wasn’t exactly Zen-like, but it sure was a hell of a lot better than carrying around  a 12 litre spray tank full of roundup. The roundup operation was weed genocide. The weeds sprayed with that hellish concoction liquid were gone forever. With the weed-eater I was just cutting the weeds down to size, they would rebound in a few weeks and I would be back to do it all over again. 

City bylaws required a weed-eater worker to wear a hardhat and steel toed work boots, so me and my partner Larry felt like full fledged construction workers. But we weren’t stuck at the same site all day.  We had 45 parking lots to maintain so we were moving around the city in our pick-up seventy percent of the time. Fifteen percent of the time was sitting in the pick-up parked in a lot. We had to survey the lot first. Decide which way to attack the outgrowth, do a run around the perimeter first, or zig zag up and down the parking aisles.  We actually weed-ate ten to twelve percent of the time. The rest of the time was refilling the weed-eater with string. One of the best bloody jobs I ever had.


Posted June 27, 2016 by markosun in Work

Boston Dynamics reveals new ‘SpotMini’ robot that can help around the kitchen   Leave a comment




The robotics firm has revealed its latest creation – a dog-like robot designed to help around the house. Best known for its impressive humanoid ‘Atlus’ and infamous gas-guzzling ‘BigDog’ robots, the company has now come up with something a little more consumer-friendly. Known as ‘SpotMini’, this quadrupedal contraption looks a bit like a small dog and is equipped with a special arm attachment that can enable it to do everything from dropping empty cans in the bin to putting dirty glasses in to a dishwasher.  A recently released YouTube video also shows how the robot is able to climb up stairs and recover from a fall – a feature hilariously demonstrated thanks to a conveniently placed banana skin. Whether the robot will ever be available for consumer purchase however, epecially given Boston Dynamics’ recent financial difficulties, remains to be seen.

Posted June 27, 2016 by markosun in Technology

US Navy keeps electromagnetic cannon in its sights   Leave a comment


A railgun is an electromagnetic projectile launcher based on similar principles to the homopolar motor. A railgun uses a pair of parallel conductors, or rails, along which a sliding armature is accelerated by the electromagnetic effects of a current that flows down one rail, into the armature and then back along the other rail.

Railguns are being researched as a weapon that would use neither explosives nor propellant, but rather rely on electromagnetic forces to achieve a very high kinetic energy of a projectile. While explosive-powered military guns cannot readily achieve a muzzle velocity of more than about 2 km/s, railguns can readily exceed 3 km/s, and thus far exceed conventionally delivered munitions in range and destructive force. The absence of explosive propellants or warheads to store and handle, as well as the low cost of projectiles compared to conventional weaponry come as additional advantages.

In addition to military applications, NASA has proposed to use a railgun from a high-altitude aircraft to fire a small payload into orbit; however, the extreme g-forces involved would necessarily restrict the usage to only the sturdiest of payloads.




The United States Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division demonstrated an 8 MJ railgun firing 3.2 kg (7.1 lb) projectiles in October 2006 as a prototype of a 64 MJ weapon to be deployed aboard Navy warships. The main problem the U.S. Navy has had with implementing a railgun cannon system is that the guns wear out due to the immense pressures, stresses and heat that are generated by the millions of amperes of current necessary to fire projectiles with megajoules of energy. Such weapons, while not nearly as powerful as a cruise missile like a BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile that will deliver 3000 MJ of destructive energy to a target, will theoretically allow the Navy to deliver more granular firepower at a fraction of the cost of a missile, and will be much harder to shoot down versus future defensive systems. For context another relevant comparison is the Rheinmetall 120mm gun used on main battle tanks will generate 9 MJ of muzzle energy. An MK 8 round fired from the 16″ guns of an Iowa Class battleship at 2500 fps (762 m/s) has 360 MJ of kinetic energy at the muzzle.

Since then, BAE Systems has delivered a 32 MJ prototype (muzzle energy) to the U.S. Navy. The same amount of energy is released by the detonation of 4.8 kg (11 lb) of C4.



The Navy may eventually enhance railgun technology to enable it to fire at a range of 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) and impact with 64 megajoules of energy. One shot would require 6 million amps of current, so it will take a long time to develop capacitors that can generate enough energy and strong enough gun materials.

Posted June 27, 2016 by markosun in Weapons

Marijuana Man has King Kong lungs   Leave a comment

This guy takes tokes that would topple a mule.  One of his tokes would put me in a coma.

Stephen Payne is a 45-year-old guy from Vancouver, British Columbia, who’s been taking bong rips on the internet since 1997. In that time he’s built something of a brand around his own version of suburban stonerism with a blog, a live show, and 92,268 subscribers to his YouTube channel, Marijuana Man. See the trailer below if you want more on that.




Nearly all his videos, as you might have guessed, feature Steve getting fried on a variety of bongs supplied by his sponsors. And most of the 569 videos are shot in what looks like his parents’ basement, wearing mostly pajamas.

In the video below, Marijuana Man suggests his stash is running low.

Posted June 26, 2016 by markosun in Drugs

It’s all about the ingredients in the concrete   Leave a comment


Two structures, one ancient and one very modern, that used super-strength concrete.


The Pantheon is a building in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier building commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. He retained Agrippa’s original inscription, which has confused its date of construction.

The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft).




The 4,535 metric tons (4,999 short tons) weight of the Roman concrete dome is concentrated on a ring of voussoirs 9.1 metres (30 ft) in diameter that form the oculus, while the downward thrust of the dome is carried by eight barrel vaults in the 6.4 metres (21 ft) thick drum wall into eight piers. The thickness of the dome varies from 6.4 metres (21 ft) at the base of the dome to 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) around the oculus. The materials used in the concrete of the dome also varies. At its thickest point, the aggregate is travertine, then terracotta tiles, then at the very top, tufa and pumice, both porous light stones. At the very top, where the dome would be at its weakest and vulnerable to collapse, the oculus actually lightens the load.




No tensile test results are available on the concrete used in the Pantheon; however, Cowan discussed tests on ancient concrete from Roman ruins in Libya, which gave a compressive strength of 20 MPa (2,900 psi). An empirical relationship gives a tensile strength of 1.47 MPa (213 psi) for this specimen. Finite element analysis of the structure by Mark and Hutchison found a maximum tensile stress of only 128 kPa (18.5 psi) at the point where the dome joins the raised outer wall.




The stresses in the dome were found to be substantially reduced by the use of successively less dense aggregate stones, such as small pots or pieces of pumice, in higher layers of the dome. Mark and Hutchison estimated that, if normal weight concrete had been used throughout, the stresses in the arch would have been some 80% greater. Hidden chambers engineered within the rotunda form a sophisticated structural system. This reduced the weight of the roof, as did the elimination of the apex by means of the oculus.



One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower, 1 World Trade Center, One WTC and 1 WTC) is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the fourth-tallest in the world. The supertall structure has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center, which was completely destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The new skyscraper stands on the northwest corner of the 16-acre (6.5 ha) World Trade Center site, on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center. The building is bounded by West Street to the west, Vesey Street to the north, Fulton Street to the south, and Washington Street to the east.


1 wtc8


In early 2010, Eastern Concrete Materials, a U.S. Concrete company, began producing high-strength concrete for One World Trade Center (WTC). Within three years, the New York City-based producer had supplied 150,000 cubic yards of ready-mix for the tower’s superstructure—with a concrete strength that has never been used on such a scale in building construction. Collavino Construction Co. then pumped this mix as high as 103 stories.


1 wtc9


Construction began in 2006 and was completed in 2014. Its supporting columns are made of steel and concrete ranging in strength from 8600 psi to 14,000 psi. Columns on the first 40 floors are made from 12,000-14,000-psi concrete and the upper floors with 8,600–10,000-psi mix designs.

The ready-mixed concrete was pumped by Collavino’s crews to the highest elevation to which concrete has ever been pumped in the Americas. Because the mix design was so workable, pumping was accomplished with a single pump that moved the concrete directly from the ground to the top story, instead of to an intermediate station where it would have been remixed before being transferred to a second pump.

The Trump World Tower, the tallest all-residential building in the world when completed in 2001 and the tallest in New York until the 76-story Beekman Tower, engineered by WSP Cantor Seinuk, brought another technological marvel to New York: “super” cement. The super or high-strength concrete is produced by blending fly ash, slag cement and silica fume with concrete. Super high-strength concrete cannot be produced with only concrete.

Typically, the high-strength concrete used in skyscraper cores (in the 1990’s) would have a compressive strength of 8,000 to 10,000 pounds per square inch (psi). Because Trump World Tower is a rather slender high-rise, WSP Cantor Seinuk specified concrete compressive strength of 12,000psi for the first time in New York City.

“On One World Trade Center WSP Cantor Seinuk’s engineers worked on specifying the compressive strength and modulus of elasticity,” says Marcus. “But we needed even higher compressive strength—14,000 psi—for the taller One World Trade building.”


1wtc (3)

View from the top


Most of the concrete has gone into the tower’s monolithic pedestal. From a footprint of 200-by-200 feet, it rises up for 70 feet. Above ground, this has specially reinforced concrete to defend the building from the blast of a street-level bomb. Below grade, the reinforced-concrete structure is engineered to protect the tower’s structural integrity from a bomb even bigger than the one that exploded in 1993 in the World Trade Center’s parking garage.




Posted June 26, 2016 by markosun in Buildings