Sunday, August 2, 2015

HELLFIRE XX 2015 - in 3D

Hundreds of home-made model rockets took flight this weekend at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Perfect weather conditions contributed to a successful gathering for the Utah Rocket Club's annual Hellfire model rocket launch event. 

3d image of someone's display

Every summer, Rocketeer hobbyists bring their rockets of all sizes from around the country to participate in this unique launch event. 

3D image of another display

Many of the rockets exceed ten feet in length and ascend to an elevation of more than 20,000'. Therefore, FAA approval had to be granted and airspace closed to aircraft for the event. 

3D image adding perspective

Some of the rockets were made from kits while others where self-designed and made from scratch. Some of the participants brought scale models of iconic rockets such as the German V2 and Friendship 7.

3D image of a German V2 - the first weaponized missile known for the destruction and terror it inflicted on London during WWII

3D image of Friendship 7 - the Redstone Rocket that launched John Glen on the first US orbital flight. There was even a little astronaut in the capsule.  

More than a hundred rockets were expected to launch over the four day event.
3d image of a launch

Some of the rockets exhibited exotic sparkle effects as fiery engine-thrust particles blasted from their engines.

The rocket below was one of my favorites at the event and it performed wonderfully, except for a bumpy landing on someone's car. No damage done.
3D image B4 launch


At the end of the day, everyone gathered together for a group photo with their rockets. 
3d image - group photo

3d Image - group disbursement 
See ya again next year UROC HELLFIRE XXI!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Wind Turbine for Donny Q

Five years ago, the US Army spent 3.8 million dollars on a windmill* at Tooele Army Depot that has never worked. 

Disfunctional Chinese-made Tang Energy turbine with Oquirrh Mountains in background.


The 262' tall monolith promised to deliver 1.5 megawatts of power, saving the military facility an average of $200,000 annually. Unfortunately, the Chinese-made Tang Energy turbine failed to perform.

With an average wind speed of around 14 mph, this location on Tooele Army Depot is the perfect location for a wind turbine. Therefore the Army has contracted** to build another wind turbine in the same location, right next to the one that doesn't work. 

The windmills are located near the southerly boarder of the southeast corner of the Tooele Army Depot and can be seen from almost everywhere in the Tooele Valley.

The new wind turbine that has been under construction for the past few months will soon be fully operational, but this time, sporting a new American-made General Electric turbine that the Army Corps of Engineers promises will deliver 1.5 to 2 megawatts of free*** energy. 

There are no plans to retrofit or remove the $3.8 million Chinese-made turbine so it will remain where it is... forever and forever in Tooele.
The power lines that supply electricity to operate the controversial NSA Data Center run adjacent to the southerly boarder of the depot.

* $3.8 million contract was awarded to PNE Corp, who installed all Chinese-made components.

** $5.5 million contract was awarded to Juhl Energy in partnership with Aegis Renewable Energy and Icenogle Construction Management inc.

***  The windmill project combined cost of $9.3 million will take an estimated 46.5 years to pay for itself.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Creation of the Atomic Servant - Trinity Turns Seventy

 Let there be light

  Seventy years ago today, at 5:29 in the morning, the first plutonium implosion device, code named* Trinity, was detonated atop a 20 meter tall tower at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The Trinity test resulted in a 20 kiloton explosion that turned the twilight into brilliant, blinding bright light. One unsuspecting observer from ten miles away was blinded by the sight... the last thing he saw was the first atomic detonation. 

Since that pivotal morning seventy years ago, two atomic weapons have been detonated over populated cities, and the international proliferation of nuclear technology has resulted in hundreds of above-ground and subterranean detonations. In that same time, nuclear energy has been harnessed, with the promise that the friendly atom would be mankind's servant

With the servant motif in mind, lets explore the notion that the atomic high priests of the Manhattan project, unwittingly created an atomic Golem on this date in 1945.


The story of the Golem is an ancient Judaic legend about the mystical creation of a man-like creature who ultimately becomes a monster. According to the tradition, a kabbalist** forms the image of a man out of clay, in emulation of God, forming Adam from the dust of the Earth. Then, mystical rites are performed, and the Hebrew word emet*** is carved into the forehead of the clay man, who then becomes animated. The Golem grows larger every day, and functions as a servant at first, but soon becomes an overgrown giant who destroys everything in its path.

The Golem can only be stopped by rubbing out the letter alef on his forehead, leaving two remaining letters, mem and tav, (mot - Hebrew for death). The Golem grows too tall for its creator to reach its forehead, but with the aid of a ladder, the kabbalist is able ascend to a height where he can erase the alef. The Golem immediately returns to a heap of clay, topples over on its creator, and crushes him to death.

The Atomic Golem that was created on July 16, 1945 by technological kabbalists has grown.**** The nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukashima are evidence that the atomic Golem can behave like an out-of-control monster. Atomic marketeers tout the fact that nuclear facilities have been designed to withstand credible events, but there will no doubt be more nuclear disasters in the future because incredible events cannot be predicted or planned for.

*Trinity is an interesting choice for a name because it invokes an archaic Christian terminology for deity; as if those technological high priests intended to signify that their creation is the new god.

**A Jewish mystic - a holy man - a keeper of secret knowledge.

*alefmemtav = emet - Hebrew for truth
According to kabbalists, alef is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and represents Adam, the first man. mem is the exact middle of the alphabet (including the final forms) and is said to represent the messiah who would come in the meridian of time. tav is the last letter of the alphabet, and symbolizes the final judgment.

****"As of 1980 the United States DOD possessed in nuclear arms, the equivalent of six tons of TNT for every living (human) inhabitant on the face of the Earth." Robert Heilbroner - The Making of an Economic Society

Saturday, June 6, 2015

One Good Thing About Afghanistan

I meet lots of people who have either served with the militarily in Afghanistan or worked as contractors there. At some point, after hearing so much negative feedback about Afghanistan, I decided to focus on the positive and start asking folks who have been there to tell me one thing good about that country. 

The first person I asked had been a contractor there, and he was dumbfounded and had a really difficult time coming up with something positive to say about Afghanistan. Finally, after thinking about it for a lot longer than I expected, he said confidently, "The roads in the tunnels are really good." I don't know what tunnels the gentleman was referring to. 

The next person I asked about Afghanistan had been a soldier there. A female soldier. She had a difficult time coming up with something positive to say about Afghanistan too. She thought it over for a long time and eventually said, "The translators were all really nice." Culturally, she had great difficulty there because the Afghan men were offended by her role as a female soldier. Women's Rights is an oxymoron in Afghanistan, and being escorted by a woman, especially an armed female infidel, was humiliating to many of them.  

Wow! Nothing about amazing sunsets, sunrises, spectacular vistas, or great food, (I'm personally a fan of Afghan cuisine). "Is it really that bad there?" I wondered. 

I was somewhat surprised when I asked the third person to tell me one good thing about Afghanistan. "The food is wonderful" he said without hesitation. He had been a contractor in various parts of Afghanistan and used the opportunity to learn about the culture. 

A few months passed by the time I talked to a UAV pilot who had been to Afghanistan. He told me that the "food was delicious," and added that he was impressed how hard the Afghans labor for their food, watering everything by hand.

On another occasion, a sketchy young man who seemed to be high on something was trying to get money for a hotel room. When he mentioned that he had been stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan I asked him to tell me one good thing about the latter. Without any hesitation, he replied, "The people." His body language gave him away though. I knew that he was lying and would say anything to get money for drugs. He had never been to Afghanistan.

Most recently, I spoke with a soldier who has served two tours in Afghanistan. He was thrilled by my question and responded positively, "The children!" He then related some experiences that provided hope for Afghanistan's future. "Not everyone there hates us" he told me.

Maybe there is hope for Afghanistan after all. Lets hope so.