Allow us to explain NASA's new supersonic X-Plane
NASA is developing something called an X-Plane that could potentially bring back supersonic speeds to the skies.
NASA is developing something called an X-Plane that could potentially bring back supersonic speeds to the skies. Not only is that super-fun alliteration, but it is also very exciting for travelers wishing to get from New York to Los Angeles in two hours. The X-Plane travels at about 940mph and should be able to break the sound barrier without the pesky sonic boom thing that us mere mortals on the ground can't stand. According to Wired, the sound will be more akin to "a car door closing" than a big ol' boom.
How is NASA doing this? Well, they aren't. They're paying Lockheed Martin $245 million to turn their Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (catchy name!) into a supersonic plane. A key difference between this and a commercial plane is the fact that the Low Boom (for short) flies at 55,000ft in altitude, a full 4 miles higher than commercial aircraft. Which makes sense, as the technology, sadly, is mostly for science, as the Low Boom is only 96ft long and only holds one person. It could be 10 years until this technology hits us regular folk.
It might be hard to for our younger readers to imagine, but back in the sepia-toned 1980s when I was growing up we had these magical planes called Concordes that went 1,354mph—nearly 400mph faster than the X-Plane. The Concorde ceased production in 2003 due to "increasing maintenance costs" (and a high-profile crash outside of Paris in 2000).
No word on whether they'll fly this supersonic over Seattle, as that's about the only chance the city has of getting the Supersonics back.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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