Fun stuff

xkcd’s What if page is really fun, but it does waste a lot of time. Here are two of the places it directed me to:

But astronomers have just published a paper about a star that is even more elderly: HD 140283, which appears to be 14.3 billion years old.

Now, before you start quoting that number for the next edition of the Guinness Book of Cosmic Records, you might want to note that the Universe itself is only 13.82 billion years old.

Now the article notes that the margin of error for the star’s age is .8 billion years which makes this possible, but I think this points to time machines for stars.

  • In this article of a pilot whose plane disintegrated while going over mach 3 at 78,000 feet:

Everything seemed to unfold in slow motion. I learned later the time from event onset to catastrophic departure from controlled flight was only 2-3 sec. Still trying to communicate with Jim, I blacked out, succumbing to extremely high g-forces. The SR-71 then literally disintegrated around us. From that point, I was just along for the ride.

My next recollection was a hazy thought that I was having a bad dream. Maybe I’ll wake up and get out of this mess, I mused. Gradually regaining consciousness, I realized this was no dream; it had really happened. That also was disturbing, because I could not have survived what had just happened. Therefore, I must be dead. Since I didn’t feel bad–just a detached sense of euphoria–I decided being dead wasn’t so bad after all. AS FULL AWARENESS took hold, I realized I was not dead, but had somehow separated from the airplane. I had no idea how this could have happened; I hadn’t initiated an ejection. The sound of rushing air and what sounded like straps flapping in the wind confirmed I was falling, but I couldn’t see anything. My pressure suit’s face plate had frozen over and I was staring at a layer of ice.

The pressure suit was inflated, so I knew an emergency oxygen cylinder in the seat kit attached to my parachute harness was functioning. It not only supplied breathing oxygen, but also pressurized the suit, preventing my blood from boiling at extremely high altitudes. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but the suit’s pressurization had also provided physical protection from intense buffeting and g-forces. That inflated suit had become my own escape capsule.

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