Revolutionary War battlefield of Saratoga to be excavated

One of the most important battlefields of the Revolutionary War is going to be excavated by archaeologists ahead of an EPA cleanup.

Back in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, General Electric dumped polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River near Saratoga, New York. The dumping was banned in 1977 due to risks to public health, and the EPA has ordered GE to dredge up the affected silt from the river. Dredging destroys archaeological sites, though, and has already damaged Fort Edward, a British fort in the area dating to the mid 18th century. Archaeologists are working to excavate the stretch of river near Saratoga before the dredgers arrive.

Saratoga was on the frontier for much of the 18th century and played a large part in the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763) and the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). During the two battles of Saratoga in September and October of 1777, the American army stopped the British advance down the Hudson River Valley, then surrounded them and forced them to surrender. It was a major victory that led to the French coming into the war on the American side. French help was one of the deciding factors in an ultimate American victory, and the creation of the United States.

The Saratoga National Historical Park 9 miles south of Saratoga, New York, includes the battlefield, a visitor center, the restored country house of American General Philip Schuyler, a monument, and Victory Woods where the British surrendered on October 17, 1777.

Archaeologists hope to find artifacts from both wars and are currently looking for a British army camp.

[Image courtesy U.S. government]

Paris Air Show 2009: A sense of scale

Covering the Paris Air Show is like trying to cover a football field with a napkin. There is so much space, depth and gravity to each display that you could spend a week going through each exhibit hall and still not get the full picture.

The above photo is a great example. This landing gear will be part of the new Airbus A350 aircraft, a model that still hasn’t been fully developed, but that’s generating a lot of buzz.

Standing right next to the gear you get a sense of the size of that aircraft. Each of the wheels comes up to your chest, which means the entire system is over 15 feet tall. And this is one corner of one display, in one corner of hall 3. It adds up quickly.

Engines have the same effect, with Pratt and Whitney, United Technologies and GE all bringing out the big guns for jaw dropping passers by. Check out one of the GE GENex engines that’ll be used on the Boeing 787 (with composite fan blades!) on display after the jump.

Airport puffer program scrapped – millions wasted

It is no secret that the government can be a huge source of wasteful spending, but seldom is money wasted as swiftly as when it comes to purchases for our “national security”.

In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security purchased 207 “puffer machines” to deploy around the various airports.

These machines cost $160,000 each, and despite this insane price, they would break down quite regularly. Simple things like dirt and humidity could render the machines unusable, raising the yearly operating costs to just under $50,000 (per machine!).

Total loss: $33 Million.

Worst of all, only 94 of these expensive contraptions were actually put into service protecting us – the rest are still in a warehouse awaiting airport deployment, something that will never happen.

I hope they’ll be able to get a good price for them on Ebay, though I doubt they’ll ever fetch anything close to the $17 Million the taxpayer spent on them, even if they are new in box.

Scrapping the program won’t bother the TSA too much, they are about to spend close to $50 Million on those nifty new full body image scanners.

The future of airport screening – 3D HD images?

This is pretty damn impressive – GE is showing off a demo video of their newest luggage scanning equipment.

Unlike current systems that present the screener with a grainy 2D image, the GE “CTX 9800 DSi” is able to grab images from all angles, and present it in HD.

The device just gained TSA certification, which probably means some of our tax money will be going towards buying them to help protect our airports from terrorist passengers.

Then again, knowing how much theft occurs in the baggage area, it could also just be a fantastic new tool for thieves to find better valuables.

(Via: Engagdet)