Ep. 28 – Shooting a Moving Target

Holy cow – Art Bell is coming back to the air in July and they guys are excited! Why? Well, it’s Art-freaking-Bell! Purveyor of the finest Alien abduction, demonic possession, and climate controlling conspiracy stories of all time! He’s the OMNI magazine of the airwaves! Late night Internet radio is about to get even more awesome!

Speaking of awesome; how about a sniper rifle that will track a moving target? Just aim, and squeeze the trigger and electronic wizardry of the 21st century will track your target and automatically adjust the bullet’s flight to hit it. Yeah, you read that right. It will steer the bullet to hit a runaway target from over 1000 yards away. We’re talking rank novices will be able to make master marksman shots and make them look easy.  How? Well, the company that’s demonstrated this tech isn’t saying, exactly. Darpa showed off their EXACTO (EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance) technology with some stunning YouTube videos that are, frankly, borderline magic if you ask us. How they’ve managed to miniaturize all of the electronics is amazing, but they also managed to create a mechanism where they can also steer the bullet in the process – while it’s in flight – to hit a tracked target.

Jacob’s excited about some breakthroughs that are letting researchers built transistor gates that are a mere three-atoms thick. That’s huge (well, actually, tiny) compared to currently available transistors and once it can be made commercially available it will be another huge breakthrough in further shrinking circuits and reducing power demands of the next (next, next) generation ICs. So it looks like Moore’s Law is safe for the meantime, and that we can continue to look forward to radically smaller and thinner circuits in all of our fancy gizmos. We bet Apple just uses this as an excuse to make the iPhone even thinner (eye-roll).

What else? Well, NASA says that the impossible EmDrive actually appears to work and produces thrust when all known laws of physics says that it shouldn’t. NASA’s Eagleworks has designed, built, and apparently successfully tested an engine as designed by former-kook-turned-propulsion-science-superstar Roger Shawyer. It appears to work at some quantum level, interacting with virtual particles that are both there and not-there at the same time. NASA’s test of the design in a hard vacuum are a huge step forward in showing that the design works. The problem is, no one is exactly sure how or why the design works and physicists are arguing over the actual mechanics involved. The bottom line is, if this is a real breakthrough in propulsion, and it can be scaled up to real-live-spaceship-size, it will usher in a totally new era of exploration within our own solar system.  In our opinion, anything that furthers space exploration is most excellent!

Lastly we talk about Tesla’s PowerWall and 1) how awesome it is and 2) how ballsy Elon Musk is to be so audacious as to try to disrupt power storage and delivery. It appears that there was a huge demand for more information and if all of the inquiries turn into orders even Musk’s gigafactory won’t be able to supply enough units to get caught up for at least a few years. If you’re thinking of building a house in the next few years, how could you not consider adding a PowerWall (or two, or three) to your budget? It seems like a no-brainer to us, even if you’re just using it as a glorified whole-house UPS to keep the lights and TVs on in a power outage.

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