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306 – Flying the RC-135S Cobra Ball



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Throughout the cold war, and til today, the Cobra-codenamed ground, sea and air assets have been used by the US to monitor Soviet/Russian ICBM missile launches and warhead reentries. The air component consists of the RC-135 Cobra Ball/Eye aircraft. Flying from Shemya in the Aleutians they used cameras and other sensors. Our guest, Robert Hopkins has been flying the aircraft in the late 1980s. In this episode he tells us about the mission and the flying — Shemya could be quite challenging.

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304 – The Past, Present and Future of Fusion Energy

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Justin and Jason wrote a nice book on fusion called The Future of Fusion Energy, and this episode is based on this book. We start out by revisiting the breakthroughs that drove progress in fusion over the decades, including understanding stars, the tokamak, superconducting magnets, supercomputers and a number of specific aspects of plasma physics. We then look at the current state of fusion research as well as where it might go.

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300 – How Processors Got So Fast

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Have you ever wondered how the processor in your phone or computer got so much more faster than what the increase in megahertz suggests? In this episode we talk with Lex Augusteijn about superscalar processors, pipelining, speculative execution, register renaming and the like. We also discuss concerns other than speed, in particular, energy efficiency.

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299 – Gravity Storage



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With power generation in the grid becoming more diverse and decentralized, energy storage is becoming more and more important. Eduard Heindl‘s gravity storage is an approach to storing electrical energy as potential energy by lifting huge masses cut out of the ground. While this sounds crazy, there are lots of reasons why this makes sense. In the episode we discuss then need, the general approach, the construction process and some of the engineering challenges. We also look at the innovation process, the path from the idea to something that is ready to be built.

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297 – Flying the AH-64 Apache



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In mid-September I drove to Illesheim Army Airfield to meet with Caleb Marheine who flies the AH-64 Apache helicopter there. We talked about the helicopter’s systems, the cockpit, aspects of flying it as well as some of the missions.

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