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Space Science

Could Ancient Pottery Improve Spacecraft Tiles? 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the blast-from-the-past dept.
astroengine writes "Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded nearly $500,000 to scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford's National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and the Aerospace Corporation to study the chemical and physical properties of ancient Attic pottery. Why? Well, the project will improve our understanding of iron-spinel chemistry, which is critical to the advanced ceramics used for thermal protection in aerospace applications, such as in the heat shield tiles used by spacecraft during atmospheric reentry."
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Could Ancient Pottery Improve Spacecraft Tiles?

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  • Finally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vikingpower (768921) <<exercitussolus> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday January 02, 2012 @08:58AM (#38562854) Homepage Journal
    ... a good reason to tell those kids in high school there IS good reason to occupy their minds with ( Latin and ) Greek antiquity. Which is not to be confounded, as the OP demonstrates, with antiquities at the fair.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:42AM (#38563000)

    Either that, or "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it." Which is advice that I wish that half of our first-world countries' leaders would listen to. Fall of the Roman Empire, anyone?

    The bad news is they've done so, and it's all good for them, so they're not changing course.

    Note that what the general public would call the "decline" was actually for the endless bureaucrat drones their "peak", so from their point of view, let the good times roll! Yes they all got killed in the end, only AFTER the general public bore the brunt, so again they come out ahead. There is really not much downside for them, is there?

    The folks who need to listen are the general public, but bread and circuses numb them.

  • I Doubt It (Score:4, Interesting)

    by segedunum (883035) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:06AM (#38563148)
    Not sure what they are trying to find out here. There was something of an arms race going on in Formula 1 during the past year with such materials and exhaust blown diffusers, the caveat being that you needed heat resistant materials to stop the exhaust gas melting the back of the car. Most specialised heat resistant material these days is a form of carbon fibre reinforced polymer with a coating such as those from Zircotech (extremely specialised and secret in the case of Formula 1 and not for use elsewhere).

    I'm not too sure what they're going to find out that isn't already known. The article was a little bit wishy washy.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:49AM (#38563454)

    The folks who need to listen are the general public, but bread and circuses numb them.

    Which is why Plato noted that democracy is generally one of the worst forms of government, generally degenerating into tyranny:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato's_five_regimes [wikipedia.org]

    Of course, we don't actually have a democracy in the U.S. (despite the rhetoric, we've never had more than a representative republic, except occasionally on very local scales). But we do have enough of the bad characteristics of democratic systems influencing our government that Plato's critique probably applies. And one could make an argument that the U.S. has been moving its way through the progression of Plato's theory of government degeneration: "aristocracy" (learned founders, who designed a system that was based on successive levels of disconnect from democratic opinion --who could vote was limited, Senate was elected by legislatures, President was elected by a "college" of electors, etc.), then "timocracy" (expansionist phase in the U.S.), "oligarchy" (concentration of power in the super-rich in the late 19th and early 20th century), and since the various rights movements, closer to true "democracy," with ever-encroaching hints at tyranny as our rights are gradually degraded.

    Note that I don't necessarily agree with Plato completely, and the mapping is not exact. But his prized form of "aristocracy" (which is more like a meritocratic government founded on smart people) has really never been tried, outside of Star Trek perhaps.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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