Jan 29, 2012 at 12:11
When you learn to fly an airplane on instruments you take one of the biggest leaps of faith that you can possibly imagine. You are suddenly thrown into a world where you are totally dependent on what a panel of gauges is telling you with no visual aids to reassure you. In practice you nearly always have some visual stimulus at the most critical moments in flight – such as the let-down (landing) – but during training, with a hood on your head, you are not permitted that little luxury.
I always felt worse for my extraordinarily patient instructor, however. He had the non-enviable task of sitting in the right-hand seat and knowing not only what I was doing but was also able to see outside as well to understand what I should have been doing. Allowing that to happen without grabbing the controls is a level of self-restraint that I doubt I would be capable of.
Transfer that feeling of insecurity, which you suffer for the first few hundred hours of instrument flying in the air, to the increasingly poss...
Jan 22, 2012 at 10:04
We are told that the Phobos-Grunt space probe, which was launched on November 9, 2011, crashed into the Pacific Ocean last Sunday, January 15. The ambitious journey of the probe was intended to grab some of the soil from Phobos, one of the moons of Mars, and bring it back to Earth. Its daring made it one of the most watched launches from Russia in decades, where failures in Mars expeditions have been the norm in the last twenty years.
The name of the probe was one of those make-you-laugh-in-English titles that we have come to expect more from Japanese t-shirts, but Фобос-Грунт, Phobos-Grunt, simply translates as Phobos-ground.
As always there was concern that the doomed mission – which failed when the probe refused to respond to commands to fire its main engines while in low-Earth orbit – would result in large pieces of the craft falling on a populated area when it dropped, which was inevitable because the power provided by its limited ...
Jan 15, 2012 at 7:55
We have embarked on another leap year. After that extra day in February 2012 we will see the two solstices and equinoxes jump backwards from their errors of the twenty-second/twenty-third of their respective months in 2011 to be early on the days where we expect them – on the twentieth and twenty-first. It’s a pattern that has been in place for two millennia after Julius Caesar himself is said to have invented the 365 day calendar in 45 BC and put the leap day in place, as opposed to the 355 day calendar that existed before.
The so-called Julian Calendar existed until 1582 when the 11 minute 14 second error in the calendar (the solar year is actually 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds – give or take a few seconds of opinions from different astronomers) got too much as seasons and feasts were pushed further and further out with the accumulative error over 1600 years pushing 12 days.
The farmers, and the movement of their planting/harvesting cycles, were the least of the Catholic Chur...