Category Archives: Technology

Future Warfare – Crazy Tank Armor, Guided Bullets, Hovering Beer Keg Drones

Today I learned a new word: misoneism. It means hating change. Sometimes I hate the future. Today I can’t decide if the future is neat or horrendous, or most likely, both. Anyhow, there’s been some interesting stuff over at Danger Room:

Tank armor, and how to get past it. In the old days, tanks just had a crapload of heavy metal as armor. Then someone developed shaped charge warheads, which blow right through armor. So, in the 1980s, they developed reactive armor. Reactive armor means covering the tank with little explosive tiles (a little bit counter-intuitive, I know). These will blow up when they are struck, thus removing the threat of the shaped charge. So, anti-tank people (you know who you are) developed the tandem charge. The tandem charge (in this case, an RPG) shoots a single warhead with two charges: the first triggers the reactive armor, the second is the shaped charge. So the ante went up, and tank designers made sensors that detected incoming RPGs and shot out charges to meet them. It’s called an active defense system (or watch a video). Not to be outdone, Russia managed to make an RPG they call the abrams killer. (The M1 Abrams is the USA’s main tank). This little devil sends a tiny missile a split second ahead of the main missile. The defense systems blow up the tiny missile, but have a .2 second cooldown before they can defend again, so blammo, dead Americans. (Or Russians, or Israelis, or anyone else defending a tank with active defense).

Next up we have guided bullets, which don’t exist yet. They are intended to be the future of sniping. Oh, joy. Here’s something from those bastards at DARPA:

The use of an actively controlled bullet will make it possible to counter environmental effects such as crosswinds and air density, and prosecute both stationary and moving targets while enhancing shooter covertness. This capability would have the further benefit of providing increased accuracy and range while reducing training requirements.

Nice use of the word “prosecution.” Kind of a Judge Dredd sort of law it brings to mind. Anyhow, the pentagon passed out millions to Lockheed Martin and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, LLC to develop this nastiness. In fact, here’s a pdf of the project’s goals. Note that this includes phone numbers and names and all of that of people who are behind this project (at least on the DARPA end). Glad we have freedom of information in this country, I gotta admit.

And finally, something I gotta admit is pretty cool, even if it is cool in the “robots will kill us all” kind of way. A flying remote control drone thingy that looks like a miniature beer keg. It hovers. It provides survelliance. Did I mention that it hovers?

All of this begs the question… why don’t we apply our grand scientific opposable-thumbs minds towards something useful? Every time you develop a better tank armor, someone is going to develop a better anti-tank weapon. This can only escalate, how have we not noticed? What about, oh, I don’t know, developing systems to feed, educate, and provide liberty for humanity? (And not in the “tanks provide liberty, team America fuck yeah” kind of way, but in the “let people have freedom and autonomy” kind of way).

Well, there’s a lot more money in bombs than in, oh, destroying the concept of money. A lot more power in the accumulation of power than the decentralization of power. Ramble, ramble, rant, rant.

Edit: at least we have jetpacks now.

VIVACE – less destructive hydro energy?

You know me, I’m really skeptical of energy generation. In general, if you ask me, the “solution” to global electrical generation is to cut it back substantially and radically decentralize what remains. But I’m willing to look at developing technologies, because, well, I like the internet and I don’t want everyone heating their homes with firewood. (Passive solar, and insulation, on the other hand…)

Anyhow, VIVACE is a machine that makes use of slow-moving water to generate electricity. What’s exciting about it is that it doesn’t need to block a river and it might be rather kinder to marine life than dams or tidal power generators. Hell, the company that currently markets the device, Vortex Hydro Energy, even rambles on about how dams are being resisted and actually ought be taken down. There’s an interesting introductory video over on the University of Michigan website (where the machine was developed).

We’ll see. I’d love to see the dams gone, but when it comes to electrical generation, TANSTAAFL. I expect that this thing is less bad than dams, of course, but I’m waiting for 30 years from now when people say “oh, woops, our windfarms have radically upset weather patterns, and our VIVACE have completely changed global currents.” But well, if there’s a world with people in it around 30 years from now anyhow, it means we ditched coal at least.

Container Living

I think the first time I ran across the idea of living in a shipping container was the film Mies vailla menneisyyttä [The Man Without A Past], a finnish movie about a man who gets mugged, loses his memory, and has to start over from scratch. It’s a pretty good movie, too. Poor guy has to actually rent a plain, boring shipping container.

Then the latest Rolling Thunder (crimethInc’s magazine) came out, and they had an article devoted to clever swedish radicals who got together and built their own autonomous space, Kulturkampanjen. Pictured above, it uses four cargo containers as the basic structural support to build off of. Pretty neat.

Then today I ran across’s exposition of container houses, and it’s pretty amazing, with a lot of different approaches introduced.

I love the re-use and recycling of industrial byproduct. I do wonder, though, how terribly hard these things would be to insulate. Perhaps the coldest night I’ve ever spent was in an empty gondola making its way from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, cause that thick steel just sucked the heat right out of us. Summer must be even worse. Still, a cheap, neat house is a pretty awesome thing.

I Can Give You Nightmares, Part 2

Now, just who would be enforcing this martial law? Clearly, it’s going to be big dog. Clearly, humans aren’t going to be in charge much longer. You’ve got to watch this video. The beginning is creepy, but it gets worse. I wonder, when they edited this thing, if they realized just how ungodly scary the noises this thing makes?

Last night, before everyone crashed, Paul Mercer [warning: MySpace] of The Ghosts Project [MySpace] showed us this thing. It is, of course, DARPA funded, and they brag about the payload this thing can carry. I don’t think anybody slept easily.

Carbon Scrubber

I’ve always been skeptical of scientific solutions to our global warming woes. By and large, they ignore the fundamental problem: we consume too much. But with things getting as dire as they are, it’s worth looking at some of the last-ditch rescue methods that science has presented us with. And just now, there’s a carbon-scrubbing machine in development in Canada that pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere, anywhere. (previous technologies pulled it out of the source of pollution, like smokestacks).

Of course, they way they’re talking about using this is all kinds of messed up: pollute in the first world, scrub in the developing world. But this thing is worth looking at, worth understanding. In the article, make sure to head down to the comments section: people really know what’s up, for the most part. We can’t count on science as a savior, but we can look to use it to make it through the worst of what lays in store for us.

(Of course, this thing isn’t scrubbing methane, so we’re pwned anyhow).

Wood-Fired Hottub

I don’t recommend going out and paying $6000 for a wood-fired hottub, but Dutch Tub is a pretty genius idea for anyone looking for sustainable decadence. Works on simple convection: you build a fire inside the spiral of pipe, and the warmer water rises. Cooler water gets sucked into the bottom. You can insulate the fire for additional efficiency. Temperature is controlled by controlling the height of the fire-basket that is inside the spiral: raise it and less of the heating coil is heated. Granted, wood, while renewable, isn’t a resource that an entire global economy should depend on. But anyone who knows me knows I’m not interested in having a centralized global economy anyhow.


I secretly (openly?) started this blog because I wanted to run an airship blog. Airships and trains, that’s how to travel.

So we’ll start with this bit of news: DARPA (military mad scientists) was given $2 million to investigate airship manufacturer Aeros‘ latest attempt at technological advance, what they call BAAV. From the comments over at DangerRoom’s Article:

WorldWide Aeros claims that they can adjust the buoyancy of their ship by compressing helium into an internal reservoir. This is theoretically possible. No one in the airship community outside of WorldWide Aeros … believes that WWA can do it.
Posted by: Josh Geller