×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

High Schoolers Push Down Price of Near-Space Photography

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the can-I-get-a-student-discount dept.

Education 88

Floodge writes "High School students at Explore Knowledge Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada have launched a near space photography balloon which took over 2000 pictures of Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, and much more! The 'space craft' was built from used and recycled components for under 60 dollars and was inspired by MIT students Project Icarus in 2009." Near-space photography via balloon isn't quite new any more, but price is a great frontier to explore. And I'm glad that there's a school called "Explore Knowledge Academy."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

88 comments

Space? (-1, Redundant)

fnj (64210) | about 3 years ago | (#35821908)

Since when is 95,000 feet of altitude in "space?"

Re:Space? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35821996)

Since when is 95,000 feet of altitude in "space?"

I believe they used the term "Near Space," which lies between 65,000 and 350,000 feet.

Re:Space? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822000)

In space, no one can read an altimeter.

Re:Space? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#35822134)

Since when is 95,000 feet of altitude in "space?"

Not much water vapor up there, almost as good as space. :)

Re:Space? (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 3 years ago | (#35822254)

Not much water vapor up there, almost as good as space. :)

So would a hike through my nearest desert qualify as a spacewalk?

Re:Space? (0)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 years ago | (#35822338)

considering that every moon astronaut trained in the desert it just might.

Re:Space? (4, Funny)

thedonger (1317951) | about 3 years ago | (#35822428)

Considering that the moon landing was STAGED in a desert it just might!

Re:Space? (1)

demonbug (309515) | about 3 years ago | (#35823032)

Considering that the moon landing was STAGED in a desert it just might!

I suppose the moon would be considered a desert, so... I agree??

Re:Space? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822192)

In space, no one can hear you *whoosh*.

Re:Space? (1)

mangu (126918) | about 3 years ago | (#35824366)

Since when is 95,000 feet of altitude in "space?"

Considering how uncrowded it's up there, "space" seems like a very good name for it.

Push down the price!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35821972)

The price of what? Was there a market? Buyers? I thought google maps sat view was free??? Is there any straw you Space Nutters won't grasp at to pretend space is some kind of exciting marketing opportunity?

Re:Push down the price!? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 3 years ago | (#35821988)

The price of what? Was there a market? Buyers? I thought google maps sat view was free??? Is there any straw you Space Nutters won't grasp at to pretend space is some kind of exciting marketing opportunity?

We just really like straw... U MAD?

Re:Push down the price!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822016)

Would you prefer we study the worms living in your bunghole?

Open wide, baby!

Re:Push down the price!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822794)

Sure, that at least sounds like a profession that can make money and even save lives. A proctologist earns a lot more money than some delusional Space Nutter drooling at this his space posters in a chuckle ward. But but but space elevators! But but but Titan! Lunatics.

You might also check into that whole "anal reference" thing. I hear you guys can get married now?

Slashdotted immediately :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35821976)

Slashdotted immediately :(

Boom chicka chicka "Server is down", boom chicka.. (2)

Ced_Ex (789138) | about 3 years ago | (#35821980)

I saw the site for a second... and boom... server goes down.

Tis' better to have looked and lost than to have never looked before.

Re:Boom chicka chicka "Server is down", boom chick (1)

ArmchairGeneral (1244800) | about 3 years ago | (#35822278)

I think Slashdot is responsible for bringing down more websites than Anonymous!

Re:Boom chicka chicka "Server is down", boom chick (1)

Squeeonline (1323439) | about 3 years ago | (#35822918)

I think Slashdot is responsible for bringing down more websites than Anonymous!

Next time there's a raid, it should be posted here. Preferably under the guise of something that would interest /.'ers

Re:Boom chicka chicka "Server is down", boom chick (1)

syousef (465911) | about 3 years ago | (#35822518)

I saw the site for a second... and boom... server goes down.

Tis' better to have looked and lost than to have never looked before.

Well it's much cheaper getting your camera into near space than buying enough bandwidth and processing power to prevent being slashdotted. Some things you can't do on a budget.

Re:Boom chicka chicka "Server is down", boom chick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35826056)

I use l8tr [l8tr.org], a free monitoring service for slashdotted pages, created by a slashdotter.

I pasted the URL of the /. link, waiting until the website comes back up.

DHS Will Be Dropping By (2, Insightful)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 3 years ago | (#35822096)

any minute now. Clearly these kids are terrorists. Why eles would they be taking photos of the Hoover Dam? Lake Meade? Las Vegas! IIRC not even tourists are allowed to photo the dam itself anymore.

Re:DHS Will Be Dropping By (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822258)

"Welcome to the Hoover Dam. I hope you have a good time on this dam tour. Please take all the dam pictures you would like."

Re:DHS Will Be Dropping By (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822384)

This is incorrect. I was there a few weeks ago, and no such requirement was imposed, or even talked about. The new fancy bypass bridge is a great place to take pictures and view the dam.

Re:DHS Will Be Dropping By (0)

c6gunner (950153) | about 3 years ago | (#35823328)

Oh shut the fuck up you useless troll. Why does everything have to be about terrorism with assholes like you? I swear, if an article came up about this years easter-egg hunt, you'd be claiming that the bomb-squad will show up any minute to blow up the eggs.

If you've actually managed to procreate, I really, really feel sorry for your children.

Re:DHS Will Be Dropping By (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35823656)

It's a joke you half-wit

Like DIY astro cams (0)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#35822106)

Not too hard to build, with a weather balloon and a modified Webcam.

I've started on a kit to build an astronomy camera, by converting a color web cam to (more sensitive) B&W. Everything else is just software.

There's a video of someone sending up a video camera on a balloon, which shows just how much atmosphere there is to look through, with haze of water vapor, etc., on youtube (can't do the look up here) which was pretty neat. What's missing is some kind of stability (add gyros?)

Are these hazardous to airplanes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822114)

I'm going to put on my buzz kill hat and say that it's only a matter of time before one of these contraptions is going to get sucked into a jet engine or foul a propellor.

Re:Are these hazardous to airplanes? (2)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#35825466)

I'm going to put on my buzz kill hat and say that it's only a matter of time before one of these contraptions is going to get sucked into a jet engine or foul a propellor.

The FAA does have rules on flying unmanned balloons. [gpoaccess.gov] They say things like don't operate them near airports, deploy them only on days with less than 50% cloud coverage, if they're deployed at night they have to have blinking lights, etc. Without more details, we don't really know if these kids followed those rules or not, but they're pretty simple rules to follow, and given the sophistication of their device I'm betting these kids were capable of following them.

They'd only be collision hazards during the limited time periods of ascent and descent. At 95,000 feet, there is no traffic of any kind except for those that bring their own oxidants with them (rockets.) And when you think about it, airspace is really really big, so the chances of a mid-air collision are vanishingly small. When you say "a matter of time", you might be talking thousands of years.

As far as a jet engine vs. this contraption, well, given that it's being lifted by a balloon less than a meter in diameter, it's probably made of the lightest mass plastic components possible, and would have a pretty small chance of causing damage to an engine. And consider the worst case, where the battery gets sucked into the engine and explodes. In the middle of a screaming combustion chamber. Designed to burn gallons of Jet-A fuel every second. It's probably not going to make too much of an impact there.

Link to Vimeo (4, Informative)

Mentally_Overclocked (311288) | about 3 years ago | (#35822118)

http://vimeo.com/22150511 [vimeo.com] This has the video of the images taken.

Re:Link to Vimeo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35823046)

With all those repeat images of the same items, from different angles, it would be neat to do a couple of projects:

      (1) Separate the images out into 8 movies, possibly all running side by side on the same screen
      or

      (2) Do automatic calculations to generate 3-d images of all these things. The process would be as follows: (a) subtract one image from the next, and take a 2D- FFT of different areas to see how much the images slide. The FFT will have a max frequency at the sliding length. Do the same again, with each image adjusted by the theoretical slide, to refine the model and to identify the motion of individual points. Track the points through several images. Then estimate the angle adjustment, to yield a relative distance and direction for each point. The relative distance can then be quantified by identifying a known quantity (such as the length of a Toyota Prius). Once you have a 3-d image, then set up the launch on a 3-d viewer.

Re:Link to Vimeo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35826060)

I just had a seizure watching that. 1895 images in 5 minutes? Whose idea was that?

Time-lapse video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822138)

Before the server went down, I got to a time-lapse video they made from the pictures taken:

http://vimeo.com/22150511 [vimeo.com]

Something cool to watch if the server remains down...

anyone got a mirror? (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 3 years ago | (#35822176)

The link for the equipment is failing for me. Did see the front page. No way that this can really be done for under $60 though. Sure, if you already have all of the parts and don't factor them into the cost you can do it for under $60, but that is true for many many things, but a pretty pointless statement.

Re:anyone got a mirror? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35823452)

built from used and recycled components

In other words, they were given a bunch of stuff as donations because they're a school, making the $60 total meaningless for anyone else who wants to do this. It's $60 if you already have the other (total - $60) parts.

USD 75, not 60 (2)

RemyBR (1158435) | about 3 years ago | (#35822214)

Their website (http://www.projectviking.org/equipment) says:
"Equipment
We innovated upon and continued the trend of low-cost flight platforms, building our craft entirely from off the shelf components for close to 75 dollars."

Also, they say they had sponsorship for the GPS unit and Helium.

Re:USD 75, not 60 (1)

Achra (846023) | about 3 years ago | (#35822358)

Bingo, that's the first thing I noticed too. It's hardly doing it at lower cost if somebody gave you an expensive GPS unit and you don't figure it's value in to the cost of the project.. The Project Icarus guys used things they had lying around, but factored their value into the cost of the project. This is a more honest approach. My assumption is that their SpotGPS unit is MORE expensive (not less) than the cellphone used in project icarus. The only real innovation here is that they used a soft-cooler instead of a styrofoam.. and also they said that their parachute failed and the equipment was OK anyways.

Re:USD 75, not 60 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35823310)

Another thing that doesn't make sense is the camera used. They don't state which camera they use but they do state they use the Ultra Intervalometer script for taking pictures. The cheapest camera I was able to find that will run this script is well over 150 dollars used.

Basically because they are a High School they got a lot of great people to donate stuff for the cause. That's great and so yeah their out of pocket cost was only around 60 - 75 dollars but in true slashdot fashion it is misleading to state that was the cost of the mission. Additionally I saw no indication on their equipment page that they used any used or recycled matarial other than a "soft cooler" from the lost and found.

To say "but price is a great frontier to explore" is just wrong. Their set-ups true cost is much more than many others that have been launched. Get real.

Re:USD 75, not 60 (1)

societyofrobots (1396043) | about 3 years ago | (#35824726)

Agreed.

I just launched a balloon (again) last Sunday.

The balloon and helium alone cost us $800 (we made it to 103k ft using a bigger more expensive balloon).

Unless people are giving you free money, thats the bare minimum - not even accounting for the cost of tracking and filming equipment. Or the gas needed to drive 4 hours following the balloon . . .

Re:USD 75, not 60 (1)

Floodge (2040570) | about 3 years ago | (#35825182)

The components for a full balloon launch (including helium) reached around 60 usd, yet this is taking into consideration the usage of cell phone GPS and not the satellite alternative loaned to the project.

Re:USD 75, not 60 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35827752)

Bingo, that's the first thing I noticed too. It's hardly doing it at lower cost if somebody gave you an expensive GPS unit and you don't figure it's value in to the cost of the project.. The Project Icarus guys used things they had lying around, but factored their value into the cost of the project. This is a more honest approach.
My assumption is that their SpotGPS unit is MORE expensive (not less) than the cellphone used in project icarus. The only real innovation here is that they used a soft-cooler instead of a styrofoam.. and also they said that their parachute failed and the equipment was OK anyways.

Well, what they said is that they got a SpotGPS Tracker, and that the GPS beacon in the phone didn't work out for them. They still used the phone, but I'm not completely sure on all the details of their project because I keep getting this:

Website you were trying to visit was disabled for 5 minutes, because it received over 20% of total server requests.
It means that this website was using over 20% of processor resources, which is above allowed limit.
Website was temporary disabled to protect the server from overloading.
Please try again in 5 minutes.

I'm not sure which exact unit they used for GPS, but the cheapest SPOT GPS I found by following their page's link was just under $100 (USD). So we just blew the budget they listed on completing the minimum payload- their other suggestion was to go with a satellite phone.
They don't say how much they paid for the 8gb memory card, but figure you can pick one up for $5-10.
The place they linked to for helium says just under $500 for just shy of 300 cubic feet, or if you're renting/refilling one of their tanks a little over $200.
They said they used a 24" parachute, but I didn't see where they listed the cost of the balloon or how much helium they actually used.
Figure the cooler they nicked from the Lost & Found at maybe five bucks, $20 if you get fancy but it looks pretty cheap to me.

So I'd say to replicate their project done a little better, a one-time cost of $100 for the GPS Tracking gear out of the gate. Figure maybe $100 to $300 for the camera and comm systems, depending on how fancy you want to get. I'd probably budget another $100 to $300 for a decent cooler, parachute and rigging, and balloon. Figure the lithium batteries will cost you say $20 for rechargables, or recurring at $5 to $10 for a pack of 10 disposables. The helium will be cheapest if you spend another $100 or so for your own tank and valve, and just get it refilled.

So altogether I think you could do a handful of launches for around $1,000 (US). That will of course fluctuate a lot depending on how much you're willing to hoof it or bike, etc. to save on fuel costs.
BUT if you skimped and scrounged like these kids did, going to pawn shops and garage sales, you could probably pull off a few launches for under $200. If you found a way to cheapskate the helium, you could easily do it for under $100.

Nothing new (1, Troll)

kuzb (724081) | about 3 years ago | (#35822270)

This is not new or exciting. This gets done a few times every year by random people, I'd hardly call it news.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Leebert (1694) | about 3 years ago | (#35822314)

This is not new or exciting.

Yeah, I would have expected the editor to have said something like: "Near-space photography via balloon isn't quite new any more"

The point was how cheap this one was done: That the price point is now down to 60 bucks.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822376)

I agree, I've seen too many of these to care, what I want to know is there a way to stop the balloon from expanding at a set point and not burst.
Once that's done stop the gas escaping!

Cheap low orbit (cannon) satelite..

Jon.

at least 3-4 slashdot stories about this recently (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 3 years ago | (#35822850)

I think I first saw on of these on Nova a few backs- MIT students using a weather balloon and smart phone.

Stop stomping on the sprouts. (4, Interesting)

jeko (179919) | about 3 years ago | (#35823350)

We live in a country where most people can't explain how the tides or fracking magnets work. (Shout out to Bill O'Reilly and other juggalos) We live in a country where the science content of "Mythbusters" is considered too difficult to understand for the average population. We live in a country where a sweet young woman who recently graduated from high school asked my wife if she drove back to the States from her visit home to Japan.

Anything -- ANYTHING -- that fans the dying embers of inquiry in this country should be encouraged. "Hey, how about that?! It's a real pain in the ass to fold even a piece of toilet paper as long as a few football fields more than 12 times. Hey, the higher you go, the colder it gets, and the more you can see. I wonder if..."

Things have gotten so bad in this country, I'm ready to fall back to toddler teaching techniques. "What, you mixed vinegar and baking soda and it got all fizzy? Hooray! Good for you! Do it again! Hey, have you seen what Diet Coke and Mentos do?"

Re:Stop stomping on the sprouts. (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | about 3 years ago | (#35823516)

We live in a country where most people can't explain how the tides or fracking magnets work

US science literacy is still quite high in international comparisons:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_sci_lit-education-scientific-literacy [nationmaster.com]

The US also is among the top for money spent per secondary student:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_spe_per_sec_sch_stu-spending-per-secondary-school-student [nationmaster.com]

Should the US improve? Of course. But ideologically motivated diatribes like yours aren't helping. Take your own advice: improve your literacy and then start arguing with facts instead of fear mongering.

Break put the Champagne! We're #14! (1)

jeko (179919) | about 3 years ago | (#35823948)

(Looking at your cites)

Yo Adrian! Wolverines! We're number 14! We're number 14 out of a field of 27! We almost made the top half! We totally kicked Mexico's butt! Wooooo Hoooooo!

You, t2t10, are what I'm talking about. You're offering a cite that lists us as 14 out of 27 and referencing that as "quite high." You must be proud of that triple digit SAT score. Let me guess, home-schooled, right, or did every kid in your class get a ribbon after running the race?

You've got this conceit going that you're offering Vulcan-like reasoning in your posts, but your problem is that your cites don't say what you'd like them to, and you don't have any experience of your own to draw from yet. You think education is doing OK in this country because some book or website tells you it is. I think things are falling apart because I've watched it with my own eyes, from both sides of the lectern. Emotional diatribes? Absolutely. I've watched our kids go from aspiring to be number one to being proud of being number 14. I'm ready to start chugging hemlock at this point.

When I was young, we were thinking "Mars, then the stars." From your other posts, your hopes and dreams are apparently to be left alone with variations of "Mine! My Precious!"

The reason I hammer away at you is that you break my heart, and I'm terrified of the timid, miserly, meager, threadbare, hopeless possible future you represent.

Re:Break put the Champagne! We're #14! (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | about 3 years ago | (#35825024)

You're offering a cite that lists us as 14 out of 27 and referencing that as "quite high."

Those 27 nations are OECD nations and represent the most developed nations in the world; hence 14 is likely our worldwide position, beating countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.

Let me guess, home-schooled, right, or did every kid in your class get a ribbon after running the race?

Worked my way through college, got a fellowship for grad school, working as a scientist now, and not rich (but frugal). Oh, and a registered Democrat, although people like you make me ashamed.

When I was young, we were thinking "Mars, then the stars."

And when you were young, per-capita education and health care spending in the US was a fraction of what it is today (in constant dollars), so lack of spending is not what killed those dreams.

The reason I hammer away at you is that you break my heart, and I'm terrified of the timid, miserly, meager, threadbare, hopeless possible future you represent.

And the reason I hammer away at you is that I am terrified of the timid, miserly, meager, threadbare, hopeless possible future you represent. You are the left-wing counterpart to the nutty worshippers of Ayn Rand and the Christian right. The FUD you people spread between you is what is causing people to have so little faith in our future. You sabotage reasonable political debate with your demagoguery and prejudices.

You think education is doing OK in this country because some book or website tells you it is. I think things are falling apart because I've watched it with my own eyes, from both sides of the lectern.

My personal experience agrees with the statistics: education and health care both are quite good in the US. If your kids and your students are disillusioned and fearful, it's because of the way you raised them and taught them.

Oh, well, if we're beating Luxembourg... (2)

jeko (179919) | about 3 years ago | (#35825594)

...then we know it's all good.

"The most developed nations?" You mean what we used to call the First World? OK, so in competition with all the countries that aren't walking in shambling horror like Rwanda, we're getting beat by more than half of them. Your sample includes Mexico, a nation that can't protect it's own mayors, police chiefs and judges. And you're proud of this?! With the exception of Germany, by your own numbers we're getting beaten by anyone who's anyone, including members recovering from historically recent wars and occupations, and you think we're doing OK? The UK is number four. We're ten spots down from that, despite the fact the we have orders of magnitude more resources to work with.

You're OK with this? Ask me how I know you don't have any kids.

And when you were young, per-capita education and health care spending in the US was a fraction of what it is today (in constant dollars), so lack of spending is not what killed those dreams.

Simply not true. When I was a boy, we were in the middle of the Space Race. Education was almost getting properly funded. Teachers weren't taking part-time jobs to get by. Textbooks were not considered a rare and precious resource. Field trips did not spur panicked begging for the parents to chip in. Schools didn't whore themselves out to McDonalds and Burger King hoping to get a few bucks.

This is how I know you haven't spent any time near a public classroom lately. You know what parents buy for schools these days? Toilet paper. Copy paper. Pencils. My school district just took up a collection to buy gas for the school buses, and I'm in a wealthier school district. The large amount of money getting collected is not reaching the classroom, and if you don't know that, then you just don't know what you're talking about. I live in a school district that includes literally million-dollar homes and our teachers dress in cast-offs from Goodwill and drive 20-year-old cars.

I'm not even going to worry about refuting this because anyone who's a parent these days knows. Every scientist I know or ever met is either livid or in despair about the state of science education in public school today -- and yeah, I'm very comfortable making that statement on Slashdot. Have you even heard about what's going on with the Texas State Board of Education? Any working scientists who wanna jump in with t2t10 and talk about what a great job we're doing teaching science in the US, by all means speak up.

What exactly about your field do you feel our public schools are doing a wonderful job of explaining?

My personal experience agrees with the statistics

The statistics? We've talked about this before. The statistics are that we're getting beaten by Cuba in healthcare and Ireland in education. We're getting our butts handed to us by small island nations with few natural resources. You're bragging that you can place middle of the pack in the Girl Scout softball league.

You sabotage reasonable political debate

Are you even watching the news? I supported Reagan. The first time. In 1980, David Stockman wasn't a raging lunatic when he argued the Laffer Curve and that lower taxes would spur growth which would yield greater overall tax revenue. In 2010, even Stockman has recanted. We live in a world where Massey Energy can kill dozens of miners with impunity, where BP can destroy the Gulf of Mexico, hide it, and still post profits in the Billions in the same quarter. Reagan could almost be reasoned with. The same is not true of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. There is no more "reasonable political debate." The situation is not in doubt, not in 2011. All the tired old ideas, that we can reach Nirvana by cutting taxes for billionaires and bleeding the middle class dry while telling the poor to simply die and decrease the surplus population, that nonsense was empirically disproven decades ago.

education and health care both are quite good in the US.

My, what a sheltered life you must have led.

And the reason I hammer away at you is that I am terrified of the timid, miserly, meager, threadbare, hopeless possible future you represent.

Really, if it's not too much trouble, could you come up with your own lines?

OK, probably not. I understand. Feel free to keep quoting people who have actually been there and know what they're talking about.

Re:Oh, well, if we're beating Luxembourg... (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | about 3 years ago | (#35829484)

You're OK with this?

I just responded to your verbal diarrhea about the supposed failure of the US educational system. Yeah, we should improve, but we're nowhere near as bad as you claim we are. And since we out-spend those other nations, the problem obviously isn't on the spending side.

"And when you were young, per-capita education and health care spending in the US was a fraction of what it is today (in constant dollars), so lack of spending is not what killed those dreams." Simply not true.

Yes it is true; go check the numbers instead of lying through your teeth.

I live in a school district that includes literally million-dollar homes and our teachers dress in cast-offs from Goodwill and drive 20-year-old cars.

So, your school district has a good tax base. If your students aren't getting the education they need, your school district is wasting the money on something else. Become active in local politics to fix this or stop complaining.

I supported Reagan.

And you have the nerve to complain about insufficient funding for anything, and about people with billion dollar bonuses? Reagan started this with his Reagonomics, Trickle Down Economics, and ill-advised military build-up and interventionism. You want to know why the US isn't number one in so many areas? Look to Reagan and then look in the mirror.

You have a good health plan and you live in a school district with a good tax base. If you can't get your medical bills reimbursed and your kids can't get a good education, you only have yourself to blame for it. Let me help you out a little: sign up for an HMO or PPO, become active in local politics, and put 20% of your income in a savings account every month.

The US should indeed become number one on health and education in the world--we spend enough money on it. And to get there, we need to keep people like you from sabotaging that goal with your selfishness, your distortions, and your negativity.

Re:Break put the Champagne! We're #14! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35825672)

Might it be too forward to suggest you both have valid viewpoints? There are places in this country where the public schools are quite well funded, and provide a lot of kids an excellent education. There are also places where the public schools are frighteningly understaffed and underfunded, and no parent with the means would voluntarily enroll their own children in them. There are places where the schools are run by rational school boards, and others where various anti-science mongers try to force a curriculum of misleading nonsense. There are districts where discipline is competently applied, and districts where it's completely irrational.

The schools we provide our children are like anything else: we generally get the quality we pay for, although strongly urban schools often have some of the lowest scores per student dollar spent. I think this reflects on the importance of the extramural environment, including such factors as inattentive parenting, rough neighborhoods, gangs, poverty, etc.

Finally, the averages you've both been arguing about are just that: averages. What may be more meaningful than arguing about #14 would be discussing the trend of the U.S. students: are they scoring better or worse today than they were 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 20 years ago? Then discover why, and find out what's changed. If being #14 means we dropped 10 places in the international ranking over the last 20 years, is it because our scores went down, or is it because South Korea's scores went up so much faster than ours? And what's the basis for the test? Are Koreans really better educated, or are they simply better prepared to take the standardized tests? Is this test the only meaningful measure of a South Korean student, or of a United States student?

Both of you are so busy waving your own point-supporting anecdotes at each other that neither of you can claim to have the "right answer" here.

Re:Stop stomping on the sprouts. (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 3 years ago | (#35827684)

Man you gotta hang out with smarter people - just kidding. We really aren't quite that bad, but I agree that we need to do something to get more interest in science.

Mythbusters? Sure, it's like Jackass for nerds, but that's the idea. The stereotype of the Asperger's afflicted science nerd has to go away, and the sooner the better.

But we have to get the young'uns thinking of science via the interesting aspects. Mythbusters helps - I don't think it's a coincidence that the stars personalities run a range of bat-crap crazy to plain odd, to nerdy but not weird, and one normal sort. And of course the non-girlie girl cutie. There's room for all types here.

Balloons? That is the sort of science project that is magic for people. It's fun to put together and execute, and you can get a whole class involved, separating into teams, that plan payload, build systems, and work out tracking and recovery missions. Amateur radio operators often do this often in conjunction with the schools, working the telemetry and tracking. Kids can do "pongsat" experiments, coming up with experiments that fit in a small space, like a ping pong ball (think effects on seeds sent to that altitude, maybe an aerogel experiment. Lots of cool stuff to be done.

One odd thing is that many people don't believe that you can get permission to do this. There are rules and guidelines, but since they've been launching weather balloons for years now, it's pretty well worked out.

fatal fri. upon us, & no changes planned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35822368)

the church&state.gov remain as the only chosen ones.

this guys' .gov.id.watch will probable explode too;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDVt_hSo_EU&NR=1

some spys like us?

I'm Surprsed (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 3 years ago | (#35822484)

I'm Surprised, not for the kids but at the Government. Where was the DHS in all of this and why didn't they shoot it down as a suspected Al Qaeda drone?

I have visions of F16s being scrambled from Nellis to go attack the invading force.

It's great to see that kids still have teachers and sponsors who will help them do something great. Yes, we may consider it small potatoes in some circles but still, this is High School! They're putting fricken sharks with laser beams at stratospheric heights!

Re:I'm Surprsed (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 3 years ago | (#35822912)

Wasn't there a case in WW2 of the Japanese launching a balloon, attaching a bomb on the bottom of it and letting it drift across the pacific? Caused the only civilian deaths in the US itself when someone said "hey, what's that thing in the tree" and poked it with a stick.

So, maybe unsolicited balloons are a concern.

Re:I'm Surprsed (1)

mattcasters (67972) | about 3 years ago | (#35823128)

Balloons are a very unreliable vehicle for delivering bombs on account of the wind being rather unpredictable and blowing in different directions on different altitudes.

Unsolicited cars and trucks on the other hand are a concern!

Re:I'm Surprsed (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 3 years ago | (#35823536)

Attach the balloon to a fishing line. Works great. Makes it retrievable and keeps it positioned.

Re:I'm Surprsed (1)

mattcasters (67972) | about 3 years ago | (#35824050)

Yes of course. However that would arguably place the explosive payload in the wrong location... namely over your head.

"maybe unsolicited balloons are a concern" (2)

jeko (179919) | about 3 years ago | (#35823650)

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

"From late 1944 until early 1945, the Japanese launched over 9,300 of these fire balloons, of which 300 were found or observed in the U.S. Despite the high hopes of their designers, the balloons were ineffective as weapons, and caused only six deaths (from one single incident)—a kill rate of 0.067%—and a small amount of damage."

So, yes, it has happened. Once. In all of recorded history.

By this reasoning, my wife's family should have shunned me as a possible bomber pilot there to drop a nuclear bomb, since that had happened twice.

My mind boggles at the level of paranoia it takes to go from "Hey, look a balloon" to "Maybe it's from the terrorists! Run away, run away!"

Did you avoid bunnies after watching "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" too?

The world is a dangerous place. There are sharks in the water. They have eaten people. But if that fear keep your toes dry on the sand, then I feel sorry for you. I can't imagine living in that much fear all the time.

Re:"maybe unsolicited balloons are a concern" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35826322)

Did you avoid bunnies after watching "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" too?

Yes, but I'm not afraid of terrorists - in fact I joined the US Army just to get the chance to shoot some as their penance for bombing us. Big Narley teeth on the other hand I don't mess with.

Re:"maybe unsolicited balloons are a concern" (1)

loimprevisto (910035) | about 3 years ago | (#35826496)

This has drifted completely off topic, but please bear with me. Before writing off the balloon attacks, read up on Japan's Unit 731's activities (warning: it's quite unpleasant reading: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-439776/Doctors-Depravity.html [dailymail.co.uk]). If the war had gone on just a little longer, we could have been faced with a massive biological warfare attack... it wouldn't have taken many of *those* balloons getting through to make life quite unpleasant.

Sharks in the water indeed...

Re:I'm Surprsed (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#35823398)

Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, "Some thing's out there"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's a red alert
There's something here from somewhere else

The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing in on the sky as
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Virus on the page? (1)

randomErr (172078) | about 3 years ago | (#35822602)

My work proxy says the page has a virus on the page. Any one not able to access the webpage?

Re:Virus on the page? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35825170)

yeah, the virus is part of the conspiracy to relate relevant technical success relating to a science/engineering project to the uninformed masses.

DISCLAIMER: This statement was not meant to be factual

donate the imagery to openstreetmap (1)

richlv (778496) | about 3 years ago | (#35822606)

hey ! and to continue the cycle of good intentions, donate the imagery to osm.org to improve maps ;)

stability (3, Interesting)

georgesdev (1987622) | about 3 years ago | (#35822886)

isn't there a team that will work on image stabilization?
I mean near space cheap photography has been done many times.
What's really missing is something to get a stable shooting of the images
right now, it makes me wanna puke!!! Then the animation would really be cool!

Re:stability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35823954)

Honestly?

One or two gyroscopes to provide image stabilization would not cost more than $60 in parts and labor . I think that the key factor is weight. Adding in gyroscopes, another set of motors, micro controller, extra battery capacity, would potentially limit the maximum height that the balloons could reach.

But, then again, they could always make bigger balloons. Any thoughts?

re:High Schoolers Push Down Price of Near-Space Ph (1)

JohnVanVliet (945577) | about 3 years ago | (#35823738)

well it looks like the site
h??p://www.projectviking.org/flight-pictures
has been /.'ed

the servers are overloaded

the /. effect in action

very crazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35826622)

High School students very crazy.
HREF="http://www.anyincn.com/sub_of_brand.aspx?cat_id=29&bra_id=249&bra_name=BVLCARI+Watchs&cat_name=Watches">BVLCARI Watchs,A

"Near" space ? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 3 years ago | (#35826762)

This (and other similar) balloons got to around 29000m (translated from the archaic units in TFA) ; definitions of the "border of space" vary, but cluster around the 100000 to 122000m range (where atmospheric drag and lift at orbital velocity become comparable). While this is undeniably a high-altitude balloon, it's hardly "near space".

OK, I'm a pedant. I'll get the phone book so you can call someone who cares.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...