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Blog posts

The Unnatural Habitat of Science Writer John Rennie

Filtering by Category: Military Technology

Shooting down future airships

John Rennie

hybridairship

Who among us with even a wisp of steampunk in our soul does not love the idea of an airship renaissance? Airships are beautiful and majestic, and modern hybrid airship designs are extraordinarily capable. They far transcend inappropriate fears of Hindenberg-like disaster. No wonder some enthusiasts foresee a coming day when airships will again fly in great numbers as replacements for some fixed-wing aircraft, as new vehicles for air cargo transport, and as floating luxury liners. Unfortunately, for reasons I explored in a series of posts back in 2011, I'm skeptical of this glorious airship resurgence. Hybrid airships work but to triumph on those terms, they need to make practical, economic sense and be better than the transportation alternatives. I'm not convinced that's true for most of the listed applications. (The important exception is for luxury cruising: any business that's built on rich people's willingness to pay top dollar for great experiences can defy some of the usual constraints.)

Start with my Txchnologist story "Lead Zeppelin: Can Airships Overcome Past Disasters and Rise Again?", then continue with my Gleaming Retort posts "Does Global Warming Help the Case for Airships?" and "Zeppelin Disappointments, Airship Woes."

Every Nuclear Detonation, from 1945-1998

John Rennie

This sobering video by Isao Hashimoto speaks for itself. You'll need about 15 minutes to watch the whole thing, but if you want a reminder of what the pace of testing in the nuclear age has been, this is well worth it. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9lquok4Pdk&hl=en_US&fs=1]

The reminder that more than 1,000 nuclear explosion took place in the American Southwest almost leaves you wondering how the entire region isn't an atomic wasteland, doesn't it?

The official page for this video on the site for the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization has more information about the artist.

(As the page notes, the video does not show two nuclear tests that occurred after 1998, both by North Korea, in October 2006 and May 2009.)