• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    William on What do you call this any…
    jmac on What do you call this any…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on What do you call this any…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on What do you call this any…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Perspective.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Perspective.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Perspective.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Perspective.
    thewizardofroz on Perspective.
    riverdaughter on Perspective.
    James Bowater on Perspective.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on In spite of it all…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on In spite of it all…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Happy Thanksgiving!
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    November 2020
    S M T W T F S
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    2930  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Path Of The Great Prophets
      A religion is an ideology with supernatural elements. We consider it OK to criticize Marxists or capitalists or libertarians or monarchists, but we tend to shy  away from saying that a religion has bad elements. The Hindu caste system is evil. It needs to end, and it needs to end today. If The Laws of […]
  • Top Posts

Time-wasting Nerd Fun

I haven’t got much done these last few days. I’ve been too busy watching the Nasa TV live feed from the Hubble servicing mission.

Hubble attached to the shuttle bay with the Earth in the background

The problems they have on a mission like this are so wonderfully groan-in-sympathy familiar: stuck bolts. Like working on old plumbing, with the same issues. They’re too professional to say it, but if I was in the control room there’d be a lot of, “Watch out! Don’t strip that thing. Omigod. You stripped it.” And so on.

Yesterday, Mike Massimino had to get at a failed power card inside the telescope. It wasn’t designed for removal, so the access plate was held down with over a hundred screws of a bunch of different sizes, which was itself behind a great big steel bar of a handhold on the surface of the telescope. The steel bar had a stuck bolt. It would not come off.

They have mockups on the ground of the same setup. Some smart tech figured out you could break the whole thing off. They showed video. The thing snapped with a bang like a rifle and shot across the room.

I love the language they use in the astronaut business. When they were going back and forth about this maneuver with Massimino on the telescope — a maneuver that could shred his suit and the telescope if it went wrong — ground Control said, “We’re a bit concerned about the stored energy in the handhold.”

One of the striking things, watching the astronauts work, is how slowly everything goes. They move slowly, slowly, slowly, like fish in glycerin. They can barely bend their hands to grasp tools because of all the pressure keeping them alive inside their suits. But when I was watching Massimino on that one space walk, everything seemed way speeded up. At first I thought they were running file footage at double speed. Then I learned he’s from New York.

And now, folks, sorry, but I have things to do. Got to watch them putting the new thermal insulation “blankets” around all that great new equipment they’ve successfully put in. As Jack Horkheimer says, “Keep looking up!” There’ll be great new Hubble pics coming out of this.