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Monday, January 25, 2010

Suki's Afternoon Links: Haggis, 747-8, NASA, New Space Suit, other stuff

FAA WANTS 747-8 HACK PROOFED


Boeing's latest 747, the 747-8, has new computer systems that "may allow the exploitation of network security vulnerabilities resulting in intentional or unintentional destruction, disruption, degradation, or exploitation" of critical systems, according to the FAA. In short, the FAA is making sure that Boeing addresses the possibility that the jets, which can be configured to hold 400 passengers, could be hacked.
It looks like a collaboration between Yves Rossy and the Martin Jetpack, with a little Buzz Lightyear thrown in, but NASA says its Puffin "personal flying suit" could someday whisk its occupant from a standing start to 30,000 feet on 60 horsepower of battery power. The device uses two rotors to vertically lift and then propel the occupant at speeds up to 120 knots. The concept was unveiled at a meeting of the American Helicopter Society Jan. 20 by Mark D. Moore, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center. Before you start making room in the garage, however, there's a serious side to the whimsical device that will keep it in military hands, at least for now. 

The Great Haggis vs. Sushi Debate (Haggis to be decriminalized in USA)

Many proud Scotsman celebrate the birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns—January 25, as it happens—with dish of haggis. This is because Burns created the world's foremost, and perhaps only, instance compelling pro-haggis verse. But true haggis imports from Scotland have been illegal in the United States (a tragedy Ilamented in these pages many Burns Nights ago), for the last 21 years thanks to ungrounded fears about mad cow disease transmission.
But this week the World Organization for Animal Health ruled sheep's lungs do not convey a variant of the disease, and the U.S. is expected to reopen the haggis floodgates shortly. (Don't think too hard about the phrase "haggis floodgates.")


NASA's Next Space Suit

If NASA returns to the moon in 2020 as planned, astronauts will step out in a brand-new space suit. It will give them new mobility and flexibility on the lunar surface while still protecting them from its harsh environment. The suit will also be able to sustain life for up to 150 hours and will even be equipped with a computer that links directly back to Earth.


The new design will also let astronauts work outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and will be suitable for trips to Mars, as outlined in NASA's program for exploration, called Constellation. "The current suits just cannot do everything we need them to do," saysTerry Hill, the Constellation space suit engineering project manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "We have a completely new design, something that has never been done before."

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