Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA Science Technology

Astronauts Having Trouble With Tranquility Module 300

Posted by timothy
from the now-release-your-anger dept.
Coldeagle writes "Astronauts ran into trouble while trying to connect up the new Tranquility module onto the ISS. A critical insulating cover didn't fit quite right: 'The fabric, multilayered cover is supposed to go between Tranquility and its observation deck, but the metal bars are not locking down properly because of interference from a hand rail or some other structure at the hatch.' One has to wonder if this is another imperial/metric snafu."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Astronauts Having Trouble With Tranquility Module

Comments Filter:
  • Metric Everywhere (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elzurawka (671029) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:06PM (#31137594)

    Atleast in scientific application there is no reason to use Imperial. Metric makes all calculations simpler, and is accepted by a much larger portion of the world, and should be the standard in all science.

  • Re:In before... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:13PM (#31137634)

    Another preemptive strike: for anyone planning to say Fahrenheit is better because you can think of it as "percentage of warm", I call b/s:

    • Warm is subjective - one man's warm is another's cool, and yet another's hot
    • You can't argue that the freezing point of water isn't cold - no-one would think of it as "32% of warm"
    • Celsius is better because it maps directly to percentage of the temperature difference between phase changes at STP, which is not subjective
    • Since we need to deal with temperatures for more than just weather and HVAC, Celsius is better, because it makes sense for lots of things. Cooking a stew? 85 degrees (almost boiling, but not quite). A roast? 160 degrees in a fan-forced oven. Meringue? At least 200 degrees - twice the boiling temperature of water. Soldering? A bit over three times boiling temperature (320 degrees). The Fahrenheit numbers don't make anywhere near as much sense.
  • Um, no one doesn't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by afabbro (33948) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:17PM (#31137664) Homepage

    One has to wonder if this is another imperial/metric snafu.

    Uh, why? Yes, NASA made that mistake once, ten+ years ago. Aren't there plenty of other mistake categories that are just as if not more likely?

  • by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:21PM (#31137704)

    He means that metric makes prefix-changing calculations easier, even though no one ever does those outside of middle school science classes. And he's assuming that you'll ignore the fact the most real-world calculations involve a coefficient that isn't a multiple of 10 because the physical world is not dictated by our measurement system, even when using SI units -- is 6.67300 × 10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2 somehow easier to use than 1.06891206 × 10^-9 feet^3 pounds-force^-1 s^-2?

    Used by a large portion of the world is a good point. There's great value in having everyone use the same system. Of course there's also an enormous cost in switching between systems, and little direct benefit to anyone who was happy with the old system, which is why no one does it.

  • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:22PM (#31137716)
    You're absolutely right, but I detect in your voice that you think some people disagree with you. This is something I see a lot, especially from Europeans: the assumption that Americans are actually fanatical supporters of the Imperial system. The truth is, we don't like it (can't speak for the UK, but I suspect it's similar). There isn't anyone in America who actually believes that the Imperial system is easier or more useful. The reason it persists is simply one of tradition, and the enormous expense (in terms of money and headaches) it would take to move the entire country over to a new system.

    For example, I have basically no concept in my mind of how far a "kilometer" is. Oh, I know it's .62 miles, and I can usually do the conversion in my head, but I don't have an intuitive, subconscious sense of how far a kilometer is, like I do for a mile. I suspect most people raised on the metric system are the same way for Imperial units, it's just not easy to get a natural sense of the units you didn't grow up with. An entire country of people who don't have an intuitive sense of the units they're using would be chaos.
  • Re:Mock ups (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skirmish666 (1287122) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:31PM (#31137780)
    Or for that matter did they not think to try testing the actual module on the ground prior to launch?
  • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:38PM (#31137852)

    He means that metric makes prefix-changing calculations easier, even though no one ever does those outside of middle school science classes. And he's assuming that you'll ignore the fact the most real-world calculations involve a coefficient that isn't a multiple of 10 because the physical world is not dictated by our measurement system, even when using SI units -- is 6.67300 × 10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2 somehow easier to use than 1.06891206 × 10^-9 feet^3 pounds-force^-1 s^-2?

    Prefix changing calculations are used a lot even outside middle school. If you have measurements in smaller units (mL, cups) and need to convert them to larger units (m^3, ft^3) because you have some table which only lists the larger units (for example a table of volume densities of various materials), then you need to do more complex calculations in the imperial system.

    1mL=1e-6 m^3
    1cup = 0.00835503472 ft^3

    and here is when you get the extra complexity.

    that's the point. While the coefficients that were observed in the real world rarely match our units evenly, with metric system at least the units themselves are a power of 10 of larger and smaller units.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:39PM (#31137856)

    Oh well, re-adjusting your intuition to new units of measure isn't nearly as hard as it seems at first, before you actually have to do it. I say this as an european, who not that long ago switched from a national currency to an european one. Back then, many people were scared of the very same thing, but it really didn't take long for people to adapt. I guess it would be pretty much the same for any physical unit relevant for people's everyday lives.

  • Re:Hubble (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:40PM (#31137864) Homepage Journal

    I also heard that they skipped an integrated (final) test to save money, relying on unit tests instead (like the paint scratch story you give). As we in the software biz know, unit tests are not a true replacement for the real thing. Unit tests merely reduce the problems in the final contraption, not prevent them.

  • Better coverage? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:43PM (#31137892)

    Here's another mystery. Why does the headline link to a story at USATODAY.COM ?

    You wanna know whats up with some peculiar internet routing? OK, we get quotes from the guys with hands on the SSH session keyboards right off the NANOG mailing list.

    You wanna talk about apple stuff, Woz himself posts here, although all he talks about is his Prius accelerating.

    You wanna talk about amateur space exploration, John Carmack himself posts here about his peroxide motors.

    You wanna talk about star trek, you get CleverNickName posting, although not since October.

    I figure Don Knuth, linus, and RMS probably post here too, although AC.

    Here is a very interesting spacecraft story, and we get a hyperlink to USA-freaking-today.com. USA-freaking-today.

    Slashdotters you should be ashamed of yourself for slashdot linking to USA-freaking-today, I know theres a genuine NASA console jockey out there whom can post the real goods, AC at least...

  • by skirmish666 (1287122) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:47PM (#31137920)
    It's also useful for conversion of units - 1,000 cm^3 is equivalent to 1Litre(of water) which weighs 1 Kilogram, 1 Joule = 1 Newton over 1 Meter = 1 Watt Second etc.
  • by dronkert (820667) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:57PM (#31138014)
    Funny as always. Still, 3 l in a two-liter bottle?
  • by Hadlock (143607) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:18PM (#31138178) Homepage Journal

    The Green Klick (Click?)

  • by CharlieG (34950) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:37PM (#31138360) Homepage

    Actually, Aircraft , and for that matter, almost all machine shop work is done in decimal inches (of course except for fastener sizes, which are their own odd 'wire gage' sizes, but are not really added/subtracted), and measurements are usually NOT reduced to feet and inches, so you'll see things like 78.50 inches (and yes, the significant figures matter for tolerances, so 78 1/2 - which yes is sometimes used in old drawings is different than 78.5, 78.50 and 78.500)

    So, yes, metric IS easier, but the inch system is not as bad as you think in doing industrial work )and yes, I have scales (what most of you would cale a ruler) that have 1/32nds, 64ths, 10ths and 100ths all on the same scale

  • by Gudeldar (705128) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:49PM (#31138474)
    This is Slashdot, the articles are just an excuse to argue about our pet issues. Just look at the article about the proposal to create a national climate service. It had absolutely nothing to do with whether anthropogenic global warming was valid or not yet the vast majority of comments were arguing for or against it.
  • by bussdriver (620565) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:29PM (#31138840)

    The rest the world has to deal with english, American technical terms, corporations, IP laws, military bases, a hysterical anti-terror crusade and occasionally our messed up measurement system. Yet Americans can't handle having to transition to metric because it would be too hard and too difficult. The greatest generation could have done it, but not the current ones - its beyond their abilities.

    Legacy parts? live with it. Eventually, they stop being produced anyhow. It can take decades to move hardware but a ton of stuff can be moved quickly.

    Bunch of wimps. I know, I live here.

  • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:27PM (#31139354) Homepage

    When I picked up a camper van in Auckland and started driving around New Zealand (and once I'd gotten over my initial terror at driving on the wrong side of the road) I found it was really easy to adapt. I made a game of it for an hour or so, trying to pick an object in the distance when I thought it was 1 km away and watching the odometer to see how close I was.

    The only time it nearly caused a problem was one evening when I came to a turn that was marked <<<< 45 <<<< and I instinctively slowed down to about 50. 50 mph, that is.

    So if you need a rule of thumb for metric speeds, remember that 45 kph is the speed at which you can negotiate a sharp bend on a wet road in a top-heavy camper van without crapping your pants.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:38PM (#31139454)

    they're sick and tired of having to learn new things just because some asshole decides they have to, they just want to live their lives in the environment they grew up in

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:46PM (#31139530)

    When visiting other countries switching over to metric for time and distance takes all of a week to get into my head.

    No countries use metric time.

    Grocery store patrons would take all of a week to need to order 2kg instead of 1lb.

    And get four times as much as they wanted?

    While I get the point of your post, you're not really demonstrating a good fundamental knowledge of metric here. :)

  • Re:In before... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Chris Gunn (1336847) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @10:08PM (#31139712)
    You have forgotten to consider the costs of not converting to metric. This forces you to have two systems. workshops have to have a set of imperial tools and a set of metric. You lose sales to other countries who can't be bothered with your backward machines. Expensive mistakes (some famous) are made when you aren't sure which units you should be using. Are you sure you can afford not to give up imperial?
  • Re:In before... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:43AM (#31144582) Homepage

    The main "selling point" is really the number of other folks using one or the other.

    That might be a good way to sell it to the public, but it is not the main benefit of a system. People should understand that a "degree" really does have meaning.

    In America, every household appliance seems to use a different unit. My water heater is in BTUs, my electronic devices are in watts, and my air conditioner has na EER which is something stupid like BTUs per Watt - a horrible combination of systems. Even within one fieldd - say, cooking - they use different units. My microwave is in watts while my stove is in BTUs.

    If we switched to Metric, this would become much simpler. And then you could compare your lawn mower, your car, your horse, and your TV all using the same units. Suddenly, things that were in the realm of complex math become accessible to the average person,

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

Working...