Video of the largest atomic bomb ever detonated

“Tsar Bomba (literally “Tsar of the bombs”), developed by the Soviet Union, is the largest nuclear explosive ever detonated, and the most powerful of such ever employed by humans. It was tested on October 30, 1961 over the island of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Sea. There is no clear evidence that any examples other than the one tested were ever made.

“The original USA estimate of the yield was 57 Mt, but since 1991 all Russian sources have stated its yield as ‘only’ 50 Mt… The fireball touched the ground, reached nearly as high as the altitude of the release plane, and was seen 1,000 km away. The heat could have caused third degree burns at a distance of 100 km. The subsequent mushroom cloud was about 60 km high and 30-40 km wide. The explosion could be seen and felt in Finland, even breaking windows there. Atmospheric focusing caused blast damage up to 1,000 km away. The seismic shock of the test went around the Earth three times.

“The Tsar Bomba is the most powerful device ever constructed by humans, and its test is the largest detonation ever. Since 50 Mt is 2.1×1017 joules, the average power produced during the entire fission-fusion process, lasting around 3.9×10-8 seconds or 39 nanoseconds, was about 5.3×1024 watts or 5.3 yottawatts. This constitutes over 1% of the power output of the Sun (383 yottawatts)… By contrast, the largest weapon ever produced by the United States, the now-decommissioned B41, had a predicted maximum yield of 25 Mt, and the largest nuclear device ever tested by the USA (Castle Bravo) yielded 15 Mt.”

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The Mini Shuttle

“With NASA’s beleaguered shuttle still grounded over safety concerns—and given the unanswered questions about its replacement, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, which won’t be ready to fly until 2012—the European Space Agency is mulling an option to buy its own ride to space. This month ESA plans to request $60 million from its member states to help Russia prepare its new, reusable spaceship, the Clipper, for a crewless test flight by 2011 and a manned flight by 2012.

Russia partners with Europe to build its own reusable spacecraft for flights to the International Space Station and beyond. (John Macneill)
John Macneill.

“The six-person Clipper is designed to replace Russia’s three-person Soyuz capsule, which has been in operation since the 1960s and is currently the only reliable transport to the International Space Station. Lighter than NASA’s shuttle and more powerful than the Soyuz, the Clipper will be more than just a taxi to the ISS. Notes ESA official Manuel Valls, ‘It could go to the moon.’

“The Russian Federal Space Agency showed off a full-scale mock-up of the craft at the Moscow International Air Show in August. If all goes well—that is, if ESA ponies up funding—design studies of the Clipper could begin in early 2006.”

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Giant jellyfish seen off the coast of Japan

“THEY are called echizen kurage and they sound like monsters from the trashier reaches of Japanese science fiction.

“They are 6ft wide and weigh 450lb (200kg), with countless poisonous tentacles, they have drifted across the void to terrorise the people of Japan. Vast armadas of the slimy horrors have cut off the country’s food supply. As soon as one is killed more appear to take its place.A giant jellyfish drifting in the waters off Echizen in in the Sea of Japan (Asahi Shimbun/Tetsuji Asano/AP)

“Finally, the quarrelsome governments of the region are banding together to unite against the enemy.

“Echizen kurage is not an extraterrestrial invader, but a giant jellyfish that is devastating the livelihoods of fishermen in the Sea of Japan. Nomura’s jellyfish, as it is known in English, is the biggest creature of its kind off Japan and for reasons that remain mysterious its numbers have surged in the past few months.”

Photo: A giant jellyfish drifting in the waters off Echizen in in the Sea of Japan (Asahi Shimbun/Tetsuji Asano/AP)

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Scientists discover how cancer spreads

“LONDON – Scientists have discovered how cancer spreads from a primary site to other places in the body in a finding that could open doors for new ways of treating and preventing advanced disease.

“Instead of a cell just breaking off from a tumor and traveling through the bloodstream to another organ where it forms a secondary tumour, or metastasis, researchers in the United States have shown that the cancer sends out envoys to prepare the new site.

“Intercepting those envoys, or blocking their action with drugs, might help to prevent the spread of cancer or to treat it in patients in which it has already occurred.”

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Microsoft says that only 3% of Xbox 360s are defective

Click on the pic to see the demolition video“Joystiq is reporting that despite the buzz surrounding defective Xbox 360s, Microsoft claims that only 3% of the units sold have been faulty, which is below the industry average. Assuming that Microsoft’s numbers are accurate, it would seem that all the online drama about melting boxs and deadly error messages can likely be attributed to the fact that early adopters tend to be outspoken in forums and don’t represent the general public.

In other 360 news, analyst P.J. McNealy speculates that between 300,000 and 400,000 of the consoles have been sold so far, and MS would have ‘sold another million if they could have. They just don’t have them.’ So to wrap things up, the 360 probably works right, but it’s a moot point ’cause the only way you’ll get to play one is at Wal-Mart.”

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When building demolition using explosives goes awry

Click on the pic to see the demolition video“What was supposed to be a simple implosion turned out to be a bit of a blunder. The Zip Feed Mill destruction is not over.

“The building is still standing after a scheduled set of blasts on the east part of the structure failed to topple the structure. The building tilted to the east and dropped about thirty feet before stopping where it sits now.

“Henry Carlson Project Manager Eric Schuler says. ‘The building sat down into the basement.’

“Schuler says crews will attempt to finish the demolition Monday with more conventional methods. Wrecking balls will be used to finish the job.”

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“The First Video Game”

See a streaming video of the Tennis For Two video game in action. (RealPlayer required.)“Higinbotham designed the game as entertainment for visitors’ days at BNL (Brookhaven National Laboratory). In the 1950s, most of the exhibits were static displays. Higinbotham, who was then head of the Instrumentation Division, said it occurred to him that ‘it might liven up the place to have a game that people could play, and which would convey the message that our scientific endeavors have relevance for society.’

“The division had a small analogue computer that contained ten direct-connected operational amplifiers. The computer’s instruction book described how to generate various curves on the cathode-ray tube of an oscilloscope, using resistors, capacitors and relays. Among the examples were the trajectory of a bullet subject to gravity and wind resistance, missile trajectories and a bouncing ball. The bouncing ball inspired Higinbotham to design a tennis game. Four of the operational amplifiers were used to generate the ball motions and the others to sense when the ball hit the ground or the net, and to switch the controls to the person in whose court the ball was located.

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Man beams 5,000 radio, TV channels with a dozen satellite receivers

“(C)ome to Al Jessup’s house where his 5,000-plus radio and television stations from around the world beamed in by his 12 satellite dishes are bound to keep you entertained somehow…

“Over the years, the 54-year-old disabled former ice cream salesman collected more and more dishes so he could pick up more and more ‘ree to air’ channels. Neighbors, he said, never complained about his large display of dishes in front of his house. In fact, some of his dishes were hand-me-downs from his neighbors.

“The last time he counted, he received more than 5,000 channels. He has stopped counting since… ‘It’s just interesting to watch stations from far away.'” Photo by Lew Whitener/The Register-Herald

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