A couple of weeks ago, we noted with interest that the space shuttle Endeavour (OV85) would be set up as a full-stack launch configuration display, complete with external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters. We predicted that this would result in some interesting engineering, not least of which will be making the entire 20-story stack safe from seismic activity. Looks like we were right on all counts, with this story about the foundation upon which the display will stand, which has been under construction for quite a while now. The base has six seismic isolators that support the 2.4-m thick slab of reinforced concrete that will serve as a perch for the full stack. The 1,800-ton slab will be able to move a meter or so from its resting position during earthquakes. Or perhaps more accurately, the foundation will allow Los Angeles to move as much as it wants while Endeavour rides it out.
If like us you’re worried that seismic loads are vastly different than the loads the spacecraft was actually designed for, relax — it turns out that the flight loads are far in excess of predicted loads from seismic stress. The plan is to build the booster stacks first — the aft skirts, which will support the entire stack, were just bolted in place — then lift the external tank in place between the boosters, and finally hoist the actual orbiter into place. After the stack is complete, the rest of the building will be built around it. We’re really looking forward to seeing some video on this project.
Also from the “We Called It” files, the news this week was filled with stories about “eagle-eyed moviegoers” spotting a glaring anachronism in the much-hyped Christopher Nolan biopic Oppenheimer. They all seemed to point back to a tweet — or whatever we’re calling them this week — that pointed out the use of 50-star American flags in a crowd scene that was supposed to have taken place in 1945. For those of you not familiar with US history, Alaska and Hawaii weren’t admitted to the union until 1959 — January and August, respectively — and so the flag in 1945 had 48 stars, as it had since 1912. The difference is easy to spot because the 48-star union had a regular array of six rows of eight stars, while the current 50-star union has five rows of six stars alternated with four rows of five stars. It’s not a big deal, perhaps, but we noticed the anachronism all the way back in December. Just saying.
In other Oppenheimer news of perhaps more interest to the Hackaday crowd, it looks like those of you who see the movie in IMAX are paying for some pretty amazing technology — namely, a Palm Pilot. The ancient PDA — or even weirder, Palm Pilot emulators running on a modern tablet — make an appearance in IMAX projection booths thanks to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle. The PDAs run software for the “quick-turn reel unit” in the booth, which controls how fast the horizontal platters holding the film turn. The article goes into great detail on how the QTRU works and why the Palm is there in the first place, but to our thinking the real gem is the POV video made by an IMAX projectionist at work threading a film into the massive projector. Enjoy.
And finally, a pair of scenes from your dystopic future. First, if you’re a Microsoft Teams user with the misfortune to roll out of bed late for a morning videoconference, fear not: cosmetics giant L’Oréal has your back. Or your face, more likely, with branded “makeup video effects for virtual meetings.” Translation: if you don’t like the way you look on camera, and don’t have time for a touch-up, software can slather some makeup on your face for you. And second, from the other end of a different species, we find this story from Béziers in southern France, where dog owners will be required to provide a doggie DNA sample to fight the city’s ongoing poop problem. Dog walkers will be required to carry the animal’s “genetic passport” with them at all times, on pain of a €38 fine. Any wayward turds found on sidewalks will be collected and genetically analyzed to find the offending pooper and levy a €122 fee to clean up the mess. While they’re both pretty dystopic, we have to admit this one sounds a lot more useful than virtual makeup.