Music and Pneumatic Launch Vehicles

I think I’ve finally got the last of the zlib double-free fixes installed on all our Linux and Solaris boxes here. I had much more fun last night. Susan and I went to the Clandestine performance at Poor David’s Pub. They sounded great as always.

Today’s mail included another issue of .NET magazine. Yick. Why do they keep sending this Microsoft crap to me? Oh well, it went straight into the recycle bin (and I quickly washed my hands after touching the evil document)! :-)

Meanwhile, our fight against spam moves ever onward. Even though we’re rejecting over 500 spams a day, the number ending up in my mailbox continues to grow (40 per day the last few days). Processing the spam (IPs to ORDB, cc to, nastygrams to senders) sucks up about half an hour of my time each day. I’m working on filter for my mail client that will forward the remaining spams to a Perl script so I can automate this as well.

One last thing. I ran across a really cool technical report in the January issue of NASA Tech Briefs (also available online if you don’t mind the free registration). A NASA researcher looking for alternative launch technologies ran across some information on the old pneumatic subway train that was proposed for New York in 1870 by Alfred Ely Beach. After researching the concept a bit, he’s proposing building a pneumatic launch system that would consist of a 6km tube with a 9m diameter. It would take 4 hours to charge the tube to a pressure of 200 kPa after which it could accelerate a 700,000kg reusable launch vehicle to 270 m/sec (the speed needed to fire up the SCRAM engines on the launch vehicle). Similar lauch systems have been proposed before using mag-lev technology but this thing could be built for a fraction of the cost using off-the-shelf hardware. Pretty neat.

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