URLs du Jour


In other news …

  • If you'd like to get depressed about the current state of computer security—or if you just run Windows—check out Bruce Schneier's essay on Storm, the current state of the art in screwing up your computer and the Internet.
    Although it's most commonly called a worm, Storm is really more: a worm, a Trojan horse and a bot all rolled into one. It's also the most successful example we have of a new breed of worm, and I've seen estimates that between 1 million and 50 million computers have been infected worldwide.
    Pun Salad readers would not be caught dead clicking on enticing links in their e-mail, I'm sure. But you might want to pass along that information to your more gullible friends.

    Oh, yeah:

    Unfortunately we have no idea who controls Storm, although there's some speculation that they're Russian.
    You don't want some low-life Russkies controlling your computer do you?

  • I'm probably leaning toward Fred Thompson at this point, but his base pandering to Iowans is pretty disappointing. (Via the Corner.)

URLs du Sputnik


'Twas fifty years ago today that the Russkies launched Sputnik 1. If you need to read a single article about it, make it Joel Achenbach's. Better, read the annotated version on his blog. But one quibble with Joel:

Sputnik's polished aluminum exterior made it visible from the ground after dusk and before dawn as the satellite reflected the sun's rays.
Well… Sputnik itself was sixth magnitude making it practically invisible without optics.

The launcher, also in orbit, was nice and bright. This article seems to treat that as if it were a deep dark secret:

Pravda also published a description of Sputnik's orbit to help people watch it pass. The article failed to mention that the light seen moving across the sky was the spent booster rocket's second stage, which was in roughly same orbit, [...]
In fact, that was pretty well known at the time.

Sky & Telescope hosts a nice rememberance of Project Moonwatch, a worldwide effort to track the satellite. There's a good story from Jim Cook from Agawam MA, who recounts a fruitless night looking for Sputnik 2, the one with the dog Laika in it. They sent out a radio appeal to the general public to scan the skies, which was also coming up empty.

But suddenly a lady called who knew her exact latitude and longitude, the exact time when she observed the moving dot of light, and the background constellations that the light traveled through. This was a fantastic observation. That's what we thought until the woman explained just before hanging up that she took her opera glasses out and checked. She said she could see Laika in the window, and the dog was all right.
I was six, but I remember Mom and Dad taking me to the Oakland, Iowa football field one night to check out the Sputnik booster winking as it tumbled overhead. Fifty years later, here's a picture from the other direction. Amazing.