Could Moon Mining Spoil Its Untouched Grandeur And Science Value?

It’s 2024. NASA’s Artemis program is in full swing, and we’re hoping to get back to the surface of the Moon real soon. Astronauts haven’t walked on the beloved sky rock since 1972! A human landing was scheduled for 2025, which has now been pushed back to 2026, and we’re all getting a bit antsy about it. Last time we wanted to go, it only took 8 years!

Now, somehow, it’s harder, but NASA also has its sights set higher. It no longer wants to just toddle about the Moon for a bit to wave at the TV cameras. This time, there’s talk of establishing permanent bases on the Moon, and actually doing useful work, like mining. It’s a tantalizing thought, but what does this mean for the sanctity of one of the last pieces of real estate yet to be spoilt by humans? Researchers are already arguing that we need to move to protect this precious, unique environment.

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The NSA’s Furby Artificial Intelligence Scare: FOIA Documents Provide Insight

For those of us who were paying a modicum of attention to the part of the news around 1999 which did not involve the imminent demise of humanity due to the Y2K issue, a certain toy called a ‘Furby’ was making the headlines. In addition to driving parents batty, it also gave everyone’s favorite US three-letter agency a scare, with it being accused of being both a spying tool and equipped with an advanced artificial intelligence chip. Courtesy of a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we now have the low-down on what had the NSA all atwitter.

In a Twitter thread (Nitter) user [dakotathekat] announced the release, which finally answered many questions about the NSA’s on-premises ban of Furbys (or Furbees if you’re Swedish). The impression one gets is that this ‘Furby ban’ was primarily instated out of an abundance of caution, as unauthorized recording devices of any kind are strictly forbidden on NSA premises. With nobody at the NSA apparently interested in doing a teardown of a Furby to ascertain its internals, and the careful balance between allowing children’s toys on NSA grounds versus the risk of a ‘Furbygate’, a ban seemed the easy way out. Similarly, the FAA saw fit to also make people turn their Furbys off like all other electronic devices.

The original Furby toys did not have anything more complex inside of them than a 6502-derived MCU and a Ti TSP50C04 IC for speech synthesis duties, with the supposed ‘learning’ process using a hardcoded vocabulary that gradually replaced its default gibberish with English or another target language.

A Paddle Wheel Ground Effect Vehicle

Who said paddle wheels were just for leisurely riverboat cruises? [rctestflight] is smashing that image with a high-speed twist on the concept, using paddle wheels to propel a ground effect vehicle across water. In the video after the break, witness this blend of old and new as he tests various designs.

Over the past few years he’s worked on a series of ground effect vehicles which exploits the increased lift and reduced drag when flying close to a surface. Unlike full-sized counterparts, smaller RC models struggle to stay in this sweet spot due to less pronounced self-stabilizing feedback loops. This means a small scale vehicle tends to touch the water rather often, and bleeding a lot of momentum in the process.

He wanted to convert these losses into gains by giving the vehicles a boost of speed whenever it touches the water. It’s a popular trick with RC cars which will hydroplane for long distances as long as they can maintain speed. All the designs still required air propellers for takeoff and to help maintain speed. The final design didn’t really need the paddle wheel when the air and water was calm, but it definitely helped when things got choppy. He is already experimenting with different paddle designs but also plans to test some other types of surface drives.

For covered a number off small scale ekranoplans, including a previous version by [rctestflight] that uses lidar for altitude control. He has also collaborated with [Think Flight] to build a autonomous small scale prototype for a maritime shipping startup.

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