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Using Math to Shoot People... into Space

Galileo and Newton realized that air drag is a factor in determining where a cannon shot will land, but until now there was no way to accurately determine how much powder is needed, the proper shape of a cannon shot, length of the cannon or even why a rifled gun is more accurate than a smooth bore. Now a small book entitled New Principles of Gunnery provides the needed formulas. Benjamin Robins uses a pendulum-like device to determine the velocity of cannon balls and he uses an early wind-tunnel to measure air drag. He mounts various shapes at the end of a stick attached to an axle and spun as a weight falls. (This is NOT a propeller.) Even though a ball may present the same surface area to the wind as a cube of the same size, they each have radically different measurable drag. With these measurements and many others, Newton's formulas are adjusted to take drag into account. Now they can kill more people using less ammunition. It's more efficient that way. (Gack!) [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Speaking of air drag, the winner of the X Prize for launching a man into space was won by the airplane designer, Burt Ru­tan (ruh-TAN). He didn't see a need for fancy (and expensive) wind tunnels. He had someone drive his pickup truck very fast while he held various models of SpaceShipOne out the window. He also realized that a reentry did not require a heat shield. He designed a changeable wing that could have one wing profile going up and another for coming down. Thus, he could go straight up very fast (3 gravities), and come down slowly enough to call it flying rather than falling. Currently, SpaceX Corporation and Orbital ATK are running the resupply missions to the International Space Station and there is more to come. It's working. [4] [5] [6]
"A lot of people want to fly in space, and they think that our government is working to make it, hopefully in their lifetimes, cheap enough for them to fly in space when indeed they're not. Unless guys like me go out and do this, it will not get done... period." -- Burt Rutan. [7] [8]

Good Cooking is Just a Matter of Altitude

Anders Celsius has been experimenting with water under various atmospheric pressures. He takes melting snow and measures the mercury level within a glass tube. He also measures the barometric pressure. He notices that the melting point of water is virtually the same regardless of atmospheric pressure. He measures boiling water, but the boiling point changes depending on the atmospheric pressure (read as, changes in altitude). He also notices that when the thermometer is withdrawn from boiling water, the mercury rises. He figures that this is due to the glass cooling faster than the mercury and thus squeezing the mercury up the tube for a moment. To solve the altitude problem, he suggests using a certain, fixed barometric pressure to standardize the boiling point of water and then submits his findings to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
SPELLCHECK ALERT! In researching this segment I noticed an article that explained that the boiling temperature depended on the LATITUDE! My goodness. The people living in Canada had better adjust their cooking recipes. Eh? Actually, ALTITUDE is the issue when boiling or pressure canning foods. Thus, people living in Denver must take this into account. Most pressure cookers come with instructions for the adjustments needed to use their product at higher ALTITUDES. Some folks may need to depend on a pressure gauge reading rather than listening for the "jiggle" of the weighted control. [11]

A Lynching Is Headed Our Way

William Lynch is born this year in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Captain Lynch will draw up a contract with his neighbors after the American Revolution. With the countryside still in chaos, local law enforcement and the judiciary will not be able to keep up with crime so civic-minded Captain Lynch will step forward to solve the problem. He will skip all that messy legal stuff and go right to the punishment. Historians are not clear whether anyone was actually put to death under Lynch, but certainly many people were punished. It is also not clear whether Captain Lynch was the only "lyncher". There is also Judge Charles Lynch of Virginia at the same time who is often credited with the word "lynching". He was born in 1736 so right now he is a cute little 6-year-old, toddling around Virginia. [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
First: a recent protest went up regarding the Lynch Memorial Building. The students at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania freaked out when they suddenly realized that a building that has been standing since the Great Depression has the name "Lynch" on the front of it. They are willing to let the name stay if the college will put the donor's full name on the building, Clyde Alvin Lynch, who just about saved the college from extinction in very tough times. Second: during the Baltimore riots, Gene Ryan called the rioters a "lynch mob". Apparently this is not allowed since only white people are capable of lynching. And finally: the Attorney General of the United States of America, (I can hear the Star Spangled Banner playing right now) is Loretta Lynch, a black woman. (He drops the mic and walks off stage.) [15] [16] [17] [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1742, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. New Principles of Gunnery: Containing the Determination of the Force of Gun-powder, and an Investigation of the Difference in the Resisting Power of the Air to Swift and Slow Motions. With Several Other Tracts on the Improvement of Practical Gunnery. books.google.com (1742). Retrieved on 13 October 2015.
  2. Robins, Benjamin (1742). New Principles of Gunnery (downloadable). https://archive.org/details/newprinciplesgu00wilsgoog. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  3. Benjamin Robins - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 October 2015. “In particular he carried out an extensive series of experiments in gunnery, embodying his results in his famous treatise on New Principles in Gunnery (1742), which contains a description of his ballistic pendulum (see chronograph).”
  4. Alex Shrugged notes: Admittedly this account comes from my failing memory after watching the Discovery Channel documentary "Black Sky: Winning the X Prize". All mistakes or misunderstanding are my own, obviously, but for people who are so foolish they need a label on their forks reading, "Do not stick fork in eye. May cause injury or death," I had to say something.
  5. Orbital ATK - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 7 March 2016. “This group also produces the Cygnus spacecraft, which delivers cargo to the International Space Station. The group is based at the company's headquarters in Dulles, Virginia.”
  6. SpaceX - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 7 March 2016. “NASA awarded the company a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract in 2006, to design and demonstrate a launch system to resupply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX, as of May 2015 has flown six missions to the ISS under a cargo resupply contract.[9] NASA also awarded SpaceX a contract in 2011 to develop and demonstrate a human-rated Dragon as part of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program to transport crew to the ISS.”
  7. Black Sky The Race for Space, Spaceship One 2 (time mark 00:06:00). YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 7 March 2016.
  8. Burt Rutan - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 7 March 2016. “He retired from Scaled Composites in April 2011. That same year, he became recognized as a Living Legend of Aviation, receiving the Bob Hoover Freedom of Flight Award. In 2012, Rutan spoke on 'Innovation and the Space Race' to the World Affairs Council, as recorded on C-Span.[12] Flying magazine ranked him at number 18 on their 2013 list, '51 Heroes of Aviation'.[8] Rutan was also a recipient of the prestigious Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 2015.”
  9. The Origin Of Celsius Temperature Scale. bspyromatic.com (2007). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “His conclusion is that 'the height of the thermometer in boiling water always is proportional to the height of the barometer, thus 8 'points' on the thermometer I use correspond to a change of one inch in the barometer reading; a thermometer which is somewhat more sensitive or have large degrees can be used as a barometer when put into boiling water, and would be easier to bring along when travelling at sea or land, especially on high mountains.'”
  10. Celsius - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 November 2015. “In 1742, Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701–1744) created a temperature scale which was the reverse of the scale now known by the name 'Celsius': 0 represented the boiling point of water, while 100 represented the freezing point of water. In his paper Observations of two persistent degrees on a thermometer, he recounted his experiments showing that the melting point of ice is essentially unaffected by pressure. He also determined with remarkable precision how the boiling point of water varied as a function of atmospheric pressure.”
  11. Pressure Canner FAQs: Answers to Common Questions About Home Canning Using Pressure Canner!. PickYourOwn.org (2016). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “Which pressure canner is more accurate, the kind with a dial or the one with a weighted control? -- The weighted control tends to be more accurate. Both types are accurate if used and cared for according to the manufacturer's instructions. Some people prefer to see the pressure reading on a dial; others prefer the sight and sound ('jiggling' noise) of the weighted control. The dial control must be tested frequently for accuracy. The weighted control doesn't need this, but it must be cleaned occasionally for good service. People who live at higher altitudes may prefer the dial because the altitude adjustment can be made more precisely.”
  12. Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, The. Merriam-Webster Inc.. ISBN 0877796033. “The blame-- at least the of evidence--for now seems to fall on Captain William Lynch (1742-1820). Captain Lynch served with the Virginia militia and presided over self-created tribunal that was organized to rid Pittsylvania County of a band of troublesome ruffians that had eluded the proper civil authorities. On 22 September 1780, Lynch and others entered into a compact stating their goals, reasons, and methods. Captain Lynch and his vigilantes soon became known as "lynch-men," and by 1782 their judicial code had become known as lynch's law and subsequently lynch law. By 1836 lynch law had given rise to the verb lynch.” 
  13. William Lynch (Lynch law) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “Captain William Lynch (1742–1820) was a man from Pittsylvania County, Virginia, who claimed to be the source of the terms 'lynch law' and 'lynching'. He is not the William Lynch who allegedly made the William Lynch speech in 1712, as the date on this apocryphal speech precedes Lynch's birth by thirty years.”
  14. Charles Lynch (judge) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “Charles Lynch (1736-1796) was a Virginia planter, politician, and American revolutionary who headed an irregular court in Virginia to punish Loyalist supporters of the British during the American Revolutionary War. The terms 'lynching' and 'lynch law' are derived from his name.”
  15. Lebanon Valley College - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “The money was to go toward an endowment and a real gymnasium, which bore the name of the president who initiated the campaign—Lynch Memorial. Right before the war ended, LVC enrollment hit bottom at 192 students. In 1946, however, enrollment ballooned to 683 students, more than 300 of which were ex-servicemen.”
  16. Student protesters jump the shark: Can't even handle the name 'Lynch'. Washington Examiner (December 9, 2015). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “To be fair, these student protesters are willing to keep the word 'lynch' on the building, provided 'Clyde A.' is added before his last name. Because apparently the students can't handle the word, even if it is clearly someone's last name, unless that person's first name is included.”
  17. Death of Freddie Gray - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “The next day, Gene Ryan, the president of the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, expressed sympathy for the Gray family, but criticized the 'rhetoric of protests' and suggested that 'the images seen on television look and sound much like a lynch mob.'”
  18. Loretta Lynch - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 8 March 2016. “On November 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated her to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General.[1] On February 26, 2015, the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate confirmed her appointment by a 12–8 vote, with all Democrats of the committee and three Republicans in favor. On April 23, 2015, Lynch was confirmed by the Senate by a 56–43 vote, making her the first African-American woman and the second woman to be confirmed for the position. She was sworn in as Attorney General on April 27, 2015, by Vice President Joe Biden.”

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