Space-related links of interest

Since I find Pinterest to be loathsome and don't have any better alternative, I'll just start running blog posts of links of interest. This one everything space-related. is a good rundown of the various kinds of rocket engines, what the trade-offs are, and where each of them has found use. Only thing missing is years on the various rockets mentioned.

My childhood's cannibal chickens and their armor-grade eggs

There was (and still is) a little tool shed in my childhood garden that also had a chicken coop. My parents had built the house before I was born, but had inherited the shed and coop from the previous property owner, who had kept pigeons there. The shed had been given the name "Valeria" (meaning "What are you laughing at?"), because the owner wanted something to match his brother-in-law's very fancy garden but didn't quite match the quality. At some point, I think when I was 8 or so, I convinced my parents to get some new chickens that I would take care of. Given the size of the coop, they had to be dwarf chickens. They had mostly free run of the garden, and occasionally the neighbor's when they found a hole in the chicken wire fence we had set up.  Mostly we had them for the eggs. We tried eating one, but since it was not a youngling any more, it was rather tough. My dad and me did the killing together, not sure who swung the axe - probably him. The eg

Non-deterministic algorithms explained using Stadia State Share

 One of the big open questions in computer science is known as " P = NP ", meaning the question of whether (the default deterministic) P olynomial algorithms can solve the same problems as N on-deterministic P olynomial algorithms. We computer scientists are lazy fuckers who compress 40 letters into 2. Countless hours has gone into not just the research on this, but also on just wrapping your head around what "non-deterministic algorithms" really means. An algorithm is just an extremely detailed recipe for doing stuff. Non-deterministic? Does that mean you get to throw dice? Or does it depend on there not being a predetermined fate known only to a higher being? Video games to the rescue! Stadia has introduced a feature called " State Share ", in which you can share not just a screenshot or a video clip, but the entire state of the game that you're playing. Other players who own that game can then pick up from there and keep playing. Maybe later they

A pair of pauldrons

Back in 2019, I decided to finally make some leather pauldrons (technically they're spaulders, not having the extra protection against stabs into the armpit). I succeeded, but they ended up with a fatal design flaw that I have yet to fix - see the end. These are the notes from making them.   The core leather from Leder Hofmann is about 6mm thick, which makes it hard to work with. I don't know where I can get some ~4.5mm leather. I use a Blechschere (tin snips) to cut it. Even dedicated leather scissors are having a hard time with this, but are good for trimming edges. It takes a bit of getting used to how to use it without making a lot of little notches along the edge. One trick is to bend the leather where it hits the scissors so it doesn't press the scissors at an angle. Making many small nibs with the tip seemed to work well. I made holes for rivets with a combination of a regular hand-held rivet punch and a punch tool, both 4mm. The hand riveter, with plenty of f

Sapir-Whorf were full of shit

They didn't seem to consider the human imagination and creativity. Just look at Leonardo da Vinci - he came up with an insane amount of things that there were no words for. And humans have been creating quite elaborate imaginary beings and stories forever. Did S&W not know of science fiction? Just because I wanted to prove a point, one morning while getting up, I came up with three different concepts that are so different from my experience and language that I should not have been able to think of them. On a phase-locked planet, whenever there is a solar eclipse, the constant hurricanes slow down for a while, allowing brave people with heavy heat shields to venture further into the hot side to gather metals. This is extremely dangerous, of course. Especially while the shield is not loaded down with metals, if it tips it can get picked up by the wind and smash into the person. There can also be invisible pools of molten material than can cause this tipping. The best gatherers ar

An ounce of butter

Butter is important in American baking, but not in the way you may think.  I've been doing all these low carb versions of various things, and have hit upon the Butter Brioche Batter Bread from the Fannie Farmer cookbook as a simple, delicious, and more balanced bread. It's essentially one-third flower, one-third butter, one-third eggs. When getting ready to bake another one of this quite delicious recipe, I pondered the weight of these ingredients, and the weight of the butter is 227g, which is rather an odd number.  For those of you who have not been unfortunate enough to have to deal with American measurements, 1 cup is 8 fluid ounces (fl. oz.), 1 fl. oz. is 2 tablespoons (tbsp), and 1 tbsp is 3 teaspoons (tsp). Yes, it's that confusing, and that's even leaving out the two other kinds of ounces. With an American wife and the American centric internet, we've had to do conversions so much that we got little fridge magnets with the factors. Only today did I realize t