Nov 11, 2009

Random Wikiness


When I am looking for inspiration in my writing - or when I am bored beyond redemption - I visit Wikipedia and use the Random Article function. Located on the left sidebar of the main Wikipedia page, clicking the Random Article link sends the visitor into unknown and often fascinating journeys into the accumulated knowledge hundreds of thousands of Wikipedians have generated.

I first found myself on a Wikipedia page about Erprobungskommando, which was a Luftwaffe unit responsible for testing experimental aircraft and weapon designs under operational conditions. Among the more noteworthy devices that the various Erprobungskommando units tested were the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket fighter and the Messerschmitt Me 262 which was one of the most advanced German aviation designs that reached the operational stage before the end of the Second World War.

My next destination was to a page describing the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), which is located on the campus of Michigan State University, my wife's first alma mater. Scientists at the NSCL investigate properties of rare isotopes and nuclear reactions, simulating the reactions that take place in stars, novae, and supernovae. However, in my many trips to Lansing in the 1980s to visit the beautiful young woman who later became my wife, the only isotopes I investigated were those that happened to be inside a tequila bottle.

For some reason my random searches kept directing me to pages with technical themes, and I next learned about the Boeing X-37. This is an experimental spaceplane that flew its first flight on April 7, 2006 after being delivered to the edge of space by a White Knight that lifted off from Edwards Air Force Base. This vehicle, part of a classified NASA project, has the potential to become the first operational U.S. military spaceplane, and the X-37 is expected to reach a top velocity up to Mach 25.

But I bet my 1995 Hyundai can kick its arse off the line at a red light, since where the hell are you going to find a gas station that carries the X-37's special fuel blend of hydrogen peroxide and JP-8 around here, Bubba? I think not.


Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Mike,
Being a Science / Engineering geek myself, I loved this posting. Germany’s aviation advancements were very much ahead of the Allies but all wars are a battle of attrition and the Allies just out produced by volume. The Erprobungskommando units were very much the equivalent to our own Skunk Works alias for Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs (ADP).

I have been following the SCRAM jet technology, the engine design being used on the X-37, since the late 1980’s.

In my late teens and early twenty’s, I was involved in racing; NASCAR and Drag Racing. Now as far as the Drag Race between your 1995 Hyundai and the X-37, I would first insist on an ET (estimated time) bracket race instead of a heads up race. As far as the special fuel blend of hydrogen peroxide and JP-8, I would solicit every beauty parlor in Toledo for the hydrogen peroxide (which will cause a sever decline in blond haired women in Toledo and surrounding areas) and the JP-8 (jet propulsion 8th grade) which is a very refined diesel fuel. JP-5 is what the fuel the Navy uses for all diesel engines as well as the fighter jets…..SOOOOO as soon as I get my hands on one of those X-37 planes or build my own from scratch….I’m gonna take you up on your challenge.

Again, Loved the posting. :-)

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Mike,
I should also add that when the spaceplane flew its first flight on April 7, 2006....was also my birthday.