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Alex Wilson

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About Alex Wilson

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  1. Kerbal Missions

    Launch Time: 10:50 am Team Members Present: Me! Alex Wilson Play-by-Play: Rather than dangerously dance with gravity turning, I opted to do a 45 degree turn at 15,000m. After watching my orbital path on the map, I eyeballed when to move down to 90 degrees, and burned until the periapsis and apoapsis were about equal (75,000 each). Then, after a bit of orbiting I used a maneuver to bring the rocket back to the surface. Time-of-Flight: ~1 day (orbiting is fun) Summary: I now know how to orbit! Opportunities / Learnings: Try to come back into the atmosphere at a slower velocity, the command pod was getting dangerously hot and going really fast. Strategies / Project Timeline: Perhaps fly to and orbit Mun and back?
  2. Kerbal Missions

    Pre Flight: Team Name: The Lone Ranger Available Funds: N/A Vehicle Name: Orbiter Vehicle Parts List and Cost: Mk1 Command Pod, Mk16 Parachute, TR-18A Stack Decoupler, T400 fuel tank (x4), "Swivel" engine, "Reliant" engine, T800, "Hammer" solid fuel boosters (x3), Design Goals: Get safely into/out of orbit Launch Goal: Execute a proper turn to make it into orbit, and come back. (This time with enough fuel!) Pilot Plan: Start the turn at about 15,000 m and slowly lean over to 90 degrees once the rocket reaches ~20,000 m. Whenever the fuel canisters run out decouple them. Once in a relatively circular orbit, execute a maneuver to come back to Kerbin
  3. Kerbal Missions

    Launch Time: 10:40 am Team Members Present: Me! Alex Wilson Play-by-Play: I totally miss timed the gravity turn and ended up turning way too late, which wasted a lot of fuel.... Luckily, the rocket still made it into orbit. Unforunately, the rocket had no more fuel to actually come back to the planet because of the inefficient ascent into orbit. Time-of-Flight: Infinite? Summary: Gravity turns are more difficult than anticapted Opportunities / Learnings: Maybe I'll just skip the gravity turn and do a semi-inefficient turn at 15,000m , which would be easier to do. Strategies / Project Timeline: I'm going to do it again, but turn better next time
  4. Kerbal Missions

    Pre Flight: Team Name: The Lone Ranger Available Funds: N/A Vehicle Name: Orbiter Vehicle Parts List and Cost: Mk1 Command Pod, Mk16 Parachute, TR-18A Stack Decoupler, T400 fuel tank (x4), "Swivel" engine, "Reliant" engine, T800, "Hammer" solid fuel boosters (x3), Design Goals: Get safely into/out of orbit Launch Goal: Execute a proper gravity turn to make it into orbit, and come back. Pilot Plan: Start the gravity turn at about 5,000 m and slowly lean over to 90 degrees once the rocket reaches ~20,000 m. Whenever the fuel canisters run out decouple them. Once in a relatively circular orbit, execute a maneuver to come back to Kerbin Illustrations:
  5. Kerbal Missions

    Launch Time: 11:05 AM Team Members Present: Me! Alex Wilson Play-by-Play: The launch started out fairly smooth, until I realized that I should have looked up how to actually control the rocket.... It ended up in a tumble at about 10,000M Photographs: I should also find out how to post the pictures here... (I'll edit later) Time-of-Flight: 3 minutes exactly! Summary: I failed miserably at actually controlling the rocket that's about all that happened Opportunities / Learnings: I want to put the second rocket in the same stage as de coupling the radial boosters Strategies / Project Timeline: I will for sure look up how to control the rocket!
  6. Kerbal Missions

    Pre Flight: Team Name: The Lone Ranger Available Funds: N/A Vehicle Name: Traveller Vehicle Parts List and Cost: Mk1 Command Pod, Mk16 Parachute, TR-18A Stack Decoupler, "Reliant" Liquid Fuel Engine, 3x Radial Decouplers, 3x Basic Fins, Advanced Inline Stabilizer Design Goals: Just test out my first rocket ever! I followed the basic rocket tutorial plus added fins for stability and the inline stabilizer because why not. Launch Goal: Learn the controls of flying in KSP Pilot Plan: See how far the rocket flies, and come back down (hopefully safely) Illustrations:

    Lately in the video game world there has been a lot of purposefully bad simulator games: Surgeon Simulator and Rock Simulator to name a couple. Now, there is a sim game called I AM BREAD. In the game you play as, well, bread. Duh. The purpose of every level is to become toast and stay edible. The best part of the game is that it has really wonky controls. Also, the physics make little sense. The bread you play as has grip and can climb walls. It also seems to be a rather heavy mass since it can break bottles and push bowling balls around. The series Teens React has a video with it: My favorite part is that they all ask "Wait, so I'm the bread?"
  8. Cool Kerbal stuff

    Pcgamer.com recently had a cool article showing real-life spacecraft creations in Kerbal Space Program. http://www.pcgamer.com/kerbal-space-program-2/ It's cool that somebody took the time to think about how to recreate these models of famous spacecraft. I found it amusing that he says the smaller spacecraft - particularly Pioneer 4 - were so small (only 6.1 kg!) that the thrust simulation in the game would make it go extra long distances with ease. As several of us in APC already know, after the AP exam we will get to play around with Kerbal Space Program in class. I personally think it's a fantastic game and is as close as you can get to simulating real life space travel for only $20.
  9. Turbulence

    Everybody who has flown in a plane has experienced turbulence. I personally never understood turbulence - what causes it, how dangerous is it, etc - but I read an article from an airline pilot explaining it. Turbulence occurs when fast moving air hits slow moving air and the air currents are disrupted. Rather than flowing smoothly, they are crashing and moving around each other. According to this pilot, encountering light to moderate turbulence is like a bumpy road in a car. It just happens. Planes are made to withstand the constant ups and downs that happen from turbulence. If you watch the wings of a plane when going through turbulence, they are made to flex. Since I am going into aerospace engineering next year, this information will become extremely relevant to me. Fluid dynamics were intimidating enough last year with algebra based physics, so I imagine calculus based will be absolutely gruelling. Oh well. #engineeringmajor I guess
  10. Even though Frozen has been over played, over hyped, over sung, over rated, and just freakin' annoying at this point (in my opinion) the level of detail that Disney and Pixar alike put into their 3D movies is incredible. Just take a look at this video: Now, I have no idea what that stuff was in the beginning other than "velocity" and "particle", but clearly it uses very high level physics and therefore calculus algorithms. It's crazy to think that back when The Incredibles came out, just animating people's skin and hair realistically was impressive, and now animators are focused on entire environments and tiny particles being realistic. The applications for physics and math are endless.
  11. More animation stuff

    So, in my quest to create these blog posts tonight, some of them will be sort of repetitive. Like this one. But still cool, don't worry. I found this video from a guy that made an awesome looking giant sandman animation. The entire thing is made of 1,000,000 particles. Clearly, he is using some sort of alien computing technology to render it because that would blow up any normal person's computer. The fact that computers exist that can move 1 million particles together in smooth animation is incredible. If our physics engines continue like this, we will be able to accurately simulate just about any situation with ease.

    Despite my love for terrible physics, there is of course a beauty in simulating very realistic physics with a computer. I think this video perfectly sums up what I mean: Blender is a fantastic free 3D modeling program that I have spent some time messing around with.... It is extremely complicated. I could hardly create anything on my own. It is is amazing that people can use programming logic to create realistic destruction animations. Each individual particle that breaks away has to be taken into account. You need to think about changes in momentum, rigidity of objects, velocities of those objects, and so many other factors to make the collisions look real. Truly, animation tests a person's knowledge of mechanical physics tremendously.
  13. MORE bad video game physics!

    To reiterate what I said in my last blog post, bad physics are the best physics. So, here's some more! A super fun game with purposefully terrible physics is Just Cause 2. In the game you are pretty much the cheesiest action hero ever, and as such can do ridiculous stunts. For instance, you can fall any distance you want, so long as you use a grappling hook to pull yourself into the ground. This makes no sense whatsoever because obviously the grapple would pull you faster into the ground not slow you down. You can also ride on top of jet planes no problem. It doesn't matter how fast they accelerate, how much wind resistance there is, or how cold it would be on the outside of a plane. There are lots of other physics that make the game fun as well, like getting shot a bunch of times and living, crashing vehicles and being flung ridiculous distances and surviving, and whatever other action hero stunts you can think of. Here's some of the fun stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPOjUD2kCBM
  14. Bad physics are the best physics

    Anybody who knows anything knows that it is a universal law that bad physics are good physics. By which I mean hilarious. This is particularly obvious in awful video games, such as Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. There are SO MANY GLITCHES. The best is being able to jump infinitely as the character, Knuckles. It clearly demonstrates the physics concept that if you paused life, you could jump forever. Wait... That's not a thing. Oh well. This video shows the infinite jump and a bunch of other terrible physics glitches.
  15. With the announcement of Windows 10 this week, Microsoft also announced a new product: the HoloLens. They have been worked on for several years in secret, by the same person who created Kinect. Although, at the moment, they are only available to developers and are a very new concept. Still, they are extremely cool and could change how we see the world in a few years. Images, which Microsoft is calling holograms, come up in the real world. The lens can process many terabytes a second which sounds absurd. The glasses can map specific rooms and overlay information onto it. Here's the new promotional page: http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us Of course, they work nothing like they do in the promo videos and pictures. But, from what I have read they still work pretty well. The only downside is that the view is only a smallish area in front of your face, as opposed to being all around you like Occulus Rift and other virtual reality. The holograms are projected similar to how prescription eyeglasses work. The light rays hit your eyes at specific points, which can make the image appear out in space. Microsoft is hoping to create consumer versions in the next decade, and I personally cannot wait. It's starting to feel like the future!

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