We recently reported on the historic flight of the Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered plane to fly through the night. Now another barrier has been broken. The Zephyr solar plane has flown nonstop for seven days.
Unlike the Solar Impulse, which carried a pilot, the Zephyr is an unmanned drone built by the UK defense firm Qinetiq. Drones have seen extensive service in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years but are hampered by the need to return for refueling and thus losing sight of targets. Drones that never need to land have an obvious advantage. The civilian potential is obvious too, with researchers already thinking up applications for using them for scientific observation.
This development also marks another step forward for potential solar-powered commercial flight. The Zephyr has solar cells along its 22.5 meter (74 ft) wingspan that drive the propellers and fill batteries that are robust enough to power the plane from sunset to sunrise. Will we one day see solar-powered commercial flights? It may be a long way off, but considering the rapid pace of technological change, it’s unwise to say that anything is impossible.
The Zephyr is still in the air near the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona and its support team plans to leave it flying for another week.
A new report by the American Anthropological Association’s ethics commission, entitled “Final Report on the Army‘s Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program,” says that anthropologists can’t participate in this project any longer. It has involved embedding five-person social scientist teams with soldiers and has been going on since 2005. Three Human Terrain System research team members have been killed during this period.
The deaths, though, aren’t the reason why the association is calling for an end to the program. Rather, it believes that the research violates the “do no harm” ethics of the anthropology field, because there is a “significant likelihood that HTS data will in some way be used as part of military intelligence.”
The House Armed Services Committee is planning to hold hearings on the HTS program next year, in order to see how effective it’s been. Only six of the 49 social scientists involved in the program are anthropologists.
Tourism Australia nailed it. The struggle between work and life is reaching fever pitch. Those with jobs are working harder than ever, thanks to layoffs and a desperate play to look like top performers in case the axe comes down again. It’s a battle, sometimes, to take control of your life. This is the theme of Tourism Australia’s new campaign, “No Leave, No Life,” which drives home the fact that Australians are pissing away their vacation time and aren’t giving themselves the time away that they need.
Well, there are a few people who would disagree, as you’ll see after the jump.
U.S. Army veteran (unless he’s really a marine – SMH can’t tell the different) Russell Wade wrote to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to complain. He’s pissed because it trivializes “an iconic picture of high significance to the American people.” Yet, he isn’t driven to anger by U.S. Marine commercials that equate fighting in a war to fantasy games in which fictional creatures are the enemy and are vanquished by knights with swords in a manner that implies death with what looks like a simple “zapping.”
Okay, back to the contested photos. Both photos were staged, so it really is a posed piece derived from a posed piece. And, it’s not like this is the worst instance of borrowing from military history and tradition to entertain, amuse or sell. Hell, where was Wade when Homer Simpson “trivialized” the U.S. Navy?
For that matter, where was he when the Village People did so? It looks like this guy has a shitload of letters to write.
The Village People can model entertainment on the U.S. military. The creators of The Simpsons can take it a step further (as they’ve done several times with the navy and the army, at this point). And, let’s face it. These go a lot deeper than modeling a photograph on a classic … mind you, a practice common in the arts.
I was a soldier for a while, and I have nothing but respect for those who served honorably. I just wish there could be a better sense of reality and an antidote for self-importance.