Thursday, July 18, 2013

Classified Information

Today was a one in a million day here at Penn.  During class we had Dr. Rick Van Berg come and talk about astronomy and also had Dr. Randy Kamien come to discuss topology.  I found both of the talks to be fun and interesting and I thought that both of the doctors did an outstanding job of keeping the audience engaged and interested rather than just going over the facts.  Dr. Berg’s presentation went over the components of the new telescope that is under construction in Chile which has the potential to revolutionize the astronomy world.  I found it exciting that when he told us about the plethora of new job opportunities that will become available after the telescope is finished in 2018.  After Dr. Berg was finished, Dr. Kamien began his topology presentation.  He focused on liquid crystals which are what make up LCD’s and the screens of every Smart phone or tablet.  Dr. Kamien did a superb job of fusing the math and physics of his field while making it interesting at the same time. 

Rifle Camera
SR-71 Pilot Suit
After class today, I went to the Franklin Institute in downtown Philadelphia to visit the Spy exhibit.  It was a really interesting exhibit that showcased all of the clever inventions and tools made for spies during the cold war. There were a lot of unique devices used in espionage like the umbrella gun or the rifle camera.  I didn't want to go at first because I think that I’m getting sick, but I went anyway so that I could enhance the experience here on the East Coast while it still lasts.   At the exhibit, there was a laser maze challenge that I attempted multiple times.  After a few goes I slammed into a wall while doing an action roll while trying to get around a narrow opening in the laser field.  It looked good for the cameras that everyone was watching on so I guess that made everything all right.   Tomorrow we get to go back to the Franklin Institute for physics.  It will be hard to beat today's experience, so I say good luck to the science exhibit.
Big Brother Is Watching


  1. Since you showed us a photo of the SR-71 flight suit I thought I’d throw some fun facts at you:

    Even though the SR-71 was retired 15 years ago, its top speed is still considered classified.

    Because the SR-71 flies so fast, the skin of the plane heats up with some parts glowing red. Because of the expansion and contraction, there are certain panels on the plane—some of them tied in with the fuels tanks—that are left loose. While on the ground, the fuels tanks leak fuel. Once the plane becomes airborne and gains a little speed these panels expand and seal the tanks. One of the first things an SR-71 does once it gets airborne is to refuel and top off the tanks.

    Even though most of the aerial reconnaissance that the SR-71’s were used for was mostly on the other side of the planet, most of the SR-71s were based here in the US.

    There was a great concern for the safety of the pilots in case of an emergency. In the event that they had to eject, there would be a sudden increase in the temperature of 450º.

    The SR-71 was developed in the early 1960’s after the famous Gary Francis Powers U-2 shootdown over the USSR showed us the vulnerability of our spy planes.

    Although the existence of the SR-71 was made public (for political reasons) during the Presidential election of 1964, it was another 20 years before the public really got even a glimpse of this plane.

    There were only 32 SR-71’s built before the manufacturing equipment was ordered destroyed in 1968.

    I love my own SR-71 but with fuel costs what they are I only take it out on special occasions.

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