Thank the Democrats for a Non-Functioning Missile Defense System

by: the Common Constitutionalist

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Last Friday IBD wrote  that, “Shortly after the North Korea [ICBM] test, Politico ran an article pointing out that ‘the Pentagon and its contractors still haven’t figured out how to reliably shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile.’ The Washington Post noted that after spending tens of billions of dollars, the system ‘has never faced combat or been fully tested.’”

You may recall the fanfare a few months ago over a triumphant test of our missile defense system. We successfully intercepted one of our own mock ICBMs launched from the Marshall Islands. A Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) was deployed from California and shot down the ICBM. Hooray for us!

Unfortunately, that intercept is the exception, not the rule, and that’s very worrisome. The one successful intercept was as close to being “laboratory” conditions as one can be. Everything about the trial was highly scripted.

And Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director Vice Admiral James Syring told a House committee recently that “I would not say we are comfortably ahead of the threat. I would say we are addressing the threat.” Translation: We’re in trouble. read more

Stretchable Hologram

For Star Wars fans, Princess Leia’s holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi asking for help is a pivotal moment in the 1977 Star Wars film Episode IV: A New Hope.

But it is only now that the technology enabling her desperate plea stands a chance of becoming a reality.

Engineers have created stretchable holograms that can change from one image to another, offering the tantalizing possibility that holographic videos may one day be possible.

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Scientists have created holograms that can change from one image to another as the materials used to generate them are stretched (pictured) which could lend themselves to animation 
Scientists have created holograms that can change from one image to another as the materials used to generate them are stretched (pictured) which could lend themselves to animation

CHANGING IMAGES 

The researchers calculated how much a holographic image expands as the material generating it stretches, and how far the image plane moves away from its original position.

Based on these findings, the team created multi-layered holograms made up of two or three different images.

This means that as the surface stretches, one image appears in the place of another.

Using this method, they created a hologram that showed a pentagon in its relaxed state, which transformed into a square, and then a triangle when pulled.

Scientists from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (SEAS) at the University of Pennsylvania used metasurfaces – flat, ultra-thin surfaces – to make their holograms.

They built on their previous work in creating 3D and multi-color holograms by embedding tiny gold rods in a stretchable film.

This helped them understand how holographic images change with stretching and to see if they could use this information to create a hologram that can switch between images.

Latest Star Wars X-Wing Fighter

An enormous Star Wars X-Wing spaceship has landed in New York’s Times Square.

It took 32 master builders more than five million LEGO bricks and too 17,000 hours to put together the full-scale replica of the Star Wars fighter.

The Lego X-Wing is the largest Lego model in history. It’s as big as the real thing and would be capable of fitting the real Luke Skywalker inside.

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Landed: Thousands gather in New York City's Times Square to watch the unveiling of the world's largest LEGO Model, a 1:1 replica of the LEGO Star Wars X-wing Starfighter
 Thousands gather in New York City’s Times Square to watch the unveiling of the world’s largest LEGO Model, a 1:1 replica of the LEGO Star Wars X-wing Starfighter
 
Extra Large: This Incredible Full Scale Lego X-Wing Is the Largest Model In History
This Incredible Full Scale Lego X-Wing Is the Largest Model In History
 
 

The world’s largest lego model. a life-sized Star Wars X-wing…

 

 

 

The full scale mode imitates the official $60 Lego 9493 X-Wing Fighter – except it’s just 42 times larger.

However instead of just 560-pieces and a few inches in length, this model uses more than five million pieces. It’s 11-feet tall, 43-feet long and has a 44-foot wingspan.

The engines also glow and roar as per the films – and you can sit inside.

The Star Wars-themed, 46,000-pound spacecraft arrived in 34 sections by container ship from Kladno in the Czech Republic.

 
Star Tours: The world's largest Lego modelled after the Star Wars X-wing starfighter is seen at Times Square after being unveiled in New York

 The world’s largest Lego modelled after the Star Wars X-wing starfighter is seen at Times Square after being unveiled in New York

 
This one can't fly: The model was transported to the United States by boat from the LEGO Model Shop in Kladno, Czech Republic, where it was constructed by a team of 32 builders
 The model was transported to the United States by boat from the LEGO Model Shop in Kladno, Czech Republic, where it was constructed by a team of 32 builders
 
Count 'em: The model contains 5,335,200 bricks and is as big as the real thing, capable of fitting the real Luke Skywalker
The model contains 5,335,200 bricks and is as big as the real thing, capable of fitting the real Luke Skywalker

THE MODEL STATS

  • Contains 5,335,200 LEGO bricks
  • Weighs 45,980 pounds/20,865 kilograms
  • Height: 11 feet / 3.35 meters
  • Length: 43 feet / 13.1 meters
  • Wingspan: 44 feet / 13.44 meters
  • 32 builders spent 17,336 hours to construct – about 4 months
  • Model is 42x the size of the retail building set
  • Engines that light up and roar

 

The model is on display in the middle of Times Square until Saturday.

The X-wing comes complete with a photo booth in the cockpit, engines that light up, and a host of sound effects.

Lego state: ‘The model was heavily engineered to withstand all the transportation, setup/break down and to ensure it was safe for Times Square given the subway system below and California’s seismic requirements for the Legoland California Resort installation.’

The model is so heavy that it requires an internal metal structure to support it.

‘Just as kids love to test and hone their LEGO building skills and imaginative storytelling, our LEGO Master Builders are always testing their creative skills to top their last larger-than-life sized creations,’ Michael McNally, LEGO’s brand relations director explained.

 
Side view: 43 feet long and with a 44 foot wingspan, the LEGO X-Wing Starfighter holds the record for largest ever model
 43 feet long and with a 44 foot wingspan, the LEGO X-Wing Starfighter holds the record for largest ever model
 
Big brother: The model reproduces the official $60 Lego 9493 X-Wing Fighter. But instead of being 560-pieces and a few inches long, this model uses more than five million pieces
 The model reproduces the official $60 Lego 9493 X-Wing Fighter. But instead of being 560-pieces and a few inches long, this model uses more than five million pieces

 

 
Long term: From conception to completion, the plane took more than one year to make
From conception to completion, the plane took more than one year to make

‘The size and structural complexity of a freestanding model 42 times the size of one our retail sets was a challenge they could not resist.’

‘I’ve built pretty big things with Lego, but this is the biggest ever,’ says Lego master builder Erik Varszegi at an unveiling ceremony in Manhattan.

‘It’s a life-size version,’ he added. ‘That means the same scale it was built for the film.’

It will will be in position over the weekend and then moved to the West Coast for the remainder of the year. Part the display also includes life-sized Lego models of Darth Vader, Yoda, and R2D2.

 
Not available in stores: LEGO sculptures of Star Wars characters are seen after the unveiling of the world's largest LEGO Model
 LEGO sculptures of Star Wars characters are seen after the unveiling of the world’s largest LEGO Model

 

 
Pilot: The model is so large that budding Luke Skywalker wannabes can sit in the cockpit
 The model is so large that budding Luke Skywalker wannabes can sit in the cockpit

 

 
Franchise: the model was built to celebrate the forthcoming premiere of the latest Lego Star Wars series The Yoda Chronicles, a three-part animated miniseries launching on Cartoon Network
 the model was built to celebrate the forthcoming premiere of the latest Lego Star Wars series The Yoda Chronicles, a three-part animated miniseries launching on Cartoon Network

Although the model is a publicity stunt, the X-Wing unveiling also promotes a series of other projects: The Yoda Chronicles, a new miniseries on the Cartoon Network, a new animated Star Wars series; and, of course, the 2015 movie from J.J. Abrams.

Lego is now in its 14th year of partnership with Star Wars and has sold more than 200 million building sets, 30 million copies of four video games and 450 different Lego Star Wars mini-figures.

Lego Star Wars has also played a huge part in boosting the Danish company’s profits which have grown by 40% in the past five years. Just ten years ago the toy company was on the verge on bankruptcy.

 
Perspective: The model is enormous and the largest ever constructed. The X-Wing will move to California next for the rest of the year
The model is enormous and the largest ever constructed. The X-Wing will move to California next for the rest of the year

Attribution: James Daniel, Daily Mail

Do I Need a Stormtrooper License?

It is every Star Wars fan’s dream mode of transport. An American firm has finally made a working ‘hoverbike’.

Made famous by ‘Return of the Jedi,’ where it flew through woods piloted by Stormtroopers, the real life version has been tested in the rather safer surrounding of the Mojave desert.

Created by California firm Aerofex, the vehicle is made from two ducted rotors facing the ground.

Changing the angle of the rotors using two control sticks allows it to move.

A video of the machine being piloted has already become a YouTube hit.

Initial plans to create a hoverbike were thwarted due to a complex control system.

However, Aerofex created a system that responds to a human pilot’s leaning movements and natural sense of balance.

‘Imagine personal flight as intuitive as riding a bike,’ the firm says on its website.

‘Or transporting a small fleet of first-responder craft in the belly of a passenger transport. ‘

The firm also believes it could be used to patrol borders quickly, and say the craft can travel over any terrain.

‘Think of the advantages of patrolling borders without first constructing roads.’

‘Think of it as lowering the threshold of flight, down to the domain of ATV’s (all-terrain vehicles),’ said Mark De Roche, an aerospace engineer and founder of Aerofex.

‘It essentially captures the translations between the two in three axis (pitch, roll and yaw), and activates the aerodynamic controls required to counter the movement — which lines the vehicle back up with the pilot,’ De Roche told InnovationNewsDaily.

‘Since [the pilot’s] balancing movements are instinctive and constant, it plays out quite effortlessly to him.’

However, sadly for Star Wars fans, the firm says it has no plans to sell hoverbikes, instead planning a range of unmanned drones using the technology.

The hovering drones, would use two enclosed rotors.

Aerofex has currently limited human flight testing to a height of 15 feet and speeds of about 30 mph.

The company plans to fly a second version of its vehicle in October, and is also preparing an unmanned drone version for flight testing by the end of 2013.