Category Science

Apollo 11 Source Code

Add this to the list of things I don’t understand but I like. Code junkies / NASA nerds just released all of the Apollo 11 mission’s computer code online for people to look at and comment on and use however they like.

In 2003 it first appeared online as a series of image scans on some MIT server someplace. First of all I know how hardcore it is to stand over a scanner and scan in a book. But look at this sucker. That’s a lot of pages to scan in.


And Get this!

All those pages were transcribed by hand.

The AGC code has been available to the public for quite a while–it was first uploaded by tech researcher Ron Burkey in 2003, after he’d transcribed it from scanned images of the original hardcopies MIT had put online. That is, he manually typed out each line, one by one.

So now that it’s online what’s happening with it?

Not too much I guess. There’s not much use for it without the cool hardware that it was built for. There is an interesting simulation of it. But it’s interesting in the sense of “hey someone made that” rather than “I wish it was available for my phone.”

Bat Embryos

From Reddit.

Old Whales

Bowhead whales were nearly hunted to extinction for their clean burning blubber. After the whale oil boom their population was estimated to be around one thousand individuals, but today they are doing much better. According to this article scientists “began recording whale numbers 34 years ago, [since then] their counts have increased from 1,200 animals in 1978 to 3,400 in 2011. From those numbers of whales seen, George estimates there are now 14,000 to 15,000 animals.”

This blog post from the Smithsonian points out that the best part of the article is that the whales can live up to 200 years. Which means there may be whales swimming in the arctic today that were born before Melvile wrote Moby Dick in 1851.

Spiders Weaving Spiders

Scientists in Peru have discovered what they think may be a new species of spider which uses twigs and dead insects to build decoy spiders to trick predators.

Afterward, Torres returned to the trails near the research center. Only within a roughly 1-square-mile area near the floodplain did Torres find more spider-building spiders — about 25 of them. “They could be quite locally restricted,” he said. “But for all I know, there’s millions of them in the forest beyond.” The spiders’ webs were crafted around face-height, near the trail, and about the width of a stretched-out hand. Some of the decoys placed in the webs looked rather realistic. Others resembled something more like a cartoon octopus.

Paper in Prison

Read this very interesting article on how paper is used in prisons. Or just read this quote:

Books have practical purposes as well, used to “prop up one end of the mats we sleep on,” wrote T.H. He had seen books “torn up and mistreated,” but was excited to find a complete GED test book and assess his 12th-grade knowledge. He wrote, “I’m a high school graduate but I lost a lot of knowledge and going through the test book has been very rewarding!” Ironically, the GED manual contained chemistry lessons on explosives, giving T.H. the idea “for making gunpowder or fireworks as a chemistry experiment and an educational learning experience.

“Small explosives can be made with household items if a person had the right ingredients and knowledge,” he wrote. “I’m guessing that’s probably illegal because it sounds like fun.”

That last part got me thinking. That does sound fun and it’s not illegal! So in honor of Independence day coming up: Small explosives can be made with household items ALSO homemade smoke bombs AND (this is my favorite) homemade rockets!