The Strange History Of NASA’s First Lunar Simulators

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How do you prepare to land on the surface of the moon when no one has ever been to the moon before? You use a flight simulator, of course. But it’s 1961, and computer flight simulators don’t exist yet, so you do what engineers at NASA did and build the ultimate dark ride: an analog flight simulator called Project LOLA, or Lunar Orbit and Landing Approach, at the Langley Space Center. LOLA was a system of massive glowing murals and scale model-orbs criss-crossed with ribbons of track. In total darkness, pilots would ride in carts along the tracks, poised at relevant angles from the ersatz moons, in order to practice translunar approach and orbit establishment. A field of simulated stars was front-projected onto screens by a four-axis “star ball” mounted over the cabin, completing the immersive effect.” w/ photos

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Why Do Things Sound Scary?

“I’ve found people who don’t have very good hearing react much stronger to scary sounds and such. Those with good hearing expect it more as they hear more of it in context. But that may just be me as I have pretty good hearing and don’t jump in freight like some people I know (who don’t have as good of hearing).” — Bytedesigning

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Which People Are The Most Self-Confident?

“Confidence is a huge factor in how people feel about their physical attractiveness. Is there a secret way to be more confident? Join Tara as she discusses a new survey examining which Americans feel the most confident!” — DNews

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Smoking Hookah Will Kill You After All

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“For a while I used to smoke hookah with my friends on a fairly regular basis. You know, those Middle Eastern waterpipes that make merry little bubbling noises when you inhale. The smoke, which emerges from your face in beautiful thick white plumes like cotton balls, is cooled and filtered by the water, resulting in a much more mellow and less dangerous smoking experience. At least, that’s what I always thought. The reality is different. According to a new report from the Dutch drug research institute Trimbos, 1 in 10 adolescents in the Netherlands occasionally smokes hookah. Many of them seem to think smoking a water pipe is less harmful than smoking cigarettes.” w/ photos

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Modern Bathroom: Wasteful, Unhealthy Design?

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Composting toilets are not yet flush-and-forget like a conventional loo, but they are getting close. There are vacuum toilets that suck it all away to the composter using almost no water; there are foam flush toilets that are almost indistinguishable from conventional bowls. Companies such as Clivus Multrum supply not only the toilet and the composter, but also a service of emptying it, just like the night soil men did 200 years ago… We mix up all our bodily functions in a machine designed by engineers on the basis of the plumbing system, not human needs. The result is a toxic output of contaminated water, questionable air quality and incredible waste. We just can’t afford to do it this way any more.” w/ photos

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What I’ve Learned As An Internet Drug Dealer

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“Many fans of Bitcoin would like to distance the technology from the reputation it has gained as the currency of choice for drug dealers and criminals on the internet. But to ignore the cryptocurrency’s use in illicit markets is to miss a vital part of what has made it successful. Food trucks and floundering satellite television companies accepting digital cash is nice, but if you want to see where the real action is in this new economy, you need to enter the deep web.” w/ photos

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Did Aliens Create Saturn’s Hexagon?

“A vast hexagon is located at Saturn’s north pole, and for years, it has sparked a number of conspiracy theories! Was it created by aliens, or is there a more realistic answer to this mystery? Dr. Ian O’Neill joins DNews this week to discuss a possible theory as to what created this hexagon.” — DNews

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How To Terraform The Moon

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“According to the Russian press release, they’ll start by analyzing the physical and chemical composition of the future home of the base, in the deep cold of the moon’s south pole. (A foolish choice, in my opinion—think how readily machinery will seize up in shadows and the cost of heating the base.) In missions between 2016 and 2025, they’ll learn how to extract minerals such as aluminum, iron, and titanium. (Maybe they can also bring back some of the helium3 we know is there. Here on Earth we’re short on helium3, which would be a key ingredient for future fusion plants.) Russia is on the right track. To deliver vast new resources to humanity, we must pioneer and occupy the moon, Mars, and perhaps even beyond.” w/ photos

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