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Gryfin210
2005-Oct-24, 07:00 PM
I was browsing JPL's site when I found this little gem...

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2005-157

[QUOTE]...Thanks to a recent technology breakthrough on a key NASA planet-finding project, the dream of answering those questions is no longer light-years away.[QUOTE]

Lightyears are a measure of distance, not time as the BA has pointed out before. Sort of reminds me of the whole english/metric confusion that we can thank for Mars Climate Orbiter.

Matherly
2005-Oct-24, 07:37 PM
I dunno, maybe not.

If you can insert a measure of distance into the sentance and have it work then I think its O.K.

For instance,

...Thanks to a recent technology breakthrough on a key NASA planet-finding project, the dream of answering those questions is no longer miles away.

By way of comparison, I could say my company's technology is "miles beyond the copmpetions'" as well as "light-years beyond the competition"

Jim
2005-Oct-24, 09:39 PM
I think Carl is right. This is an affectation which is commonly used... expressing one attribute in terms of another, or using an easier to visualize metaphor.

F'rinstance, if a toothpaste company tells you their product "stands head and shoulders above the rest," do you think they mean it's a really tall tube of toothpaste?

soylentgreen
2005-Oct-24, 11:02 PM
Weren't they the guys bragging about making the "Kessel Run" in less than 12 parsecs? ;)

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-24, 11:56 PM
Who? NASA? No, blame that one on George Lucas!

The Mangler
2005-Oct-25, 12:13 AM
I think you might still be able to use "light years" in that way. Example, you're driving down the road, pass a sign, and think "I am miles from home."
Miles or hours would work there, because they both imply that it'll be a while till you get home.
Don't take everything literally.

Sticks
2005-Oct-25, 12:35 PM
Another expression if you analyse it says the opposite to what is meant is "Quantum Leap" In reality a leap of an electron from one "quantum" level to another is quite tiny.

I heard it used on a programme disussing UFO's as really US black ops projects, saying how the SR71 was a quantum leap in plane design. :lol:

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-25, 12:39 PM
Speaking of which, IS the "Stealth" aircraft a huge leap in technology? It just seemed to me to be a jet that's black with a different chassis, to best keep it from being picked up on radar.

Is this really that "incredible"?

NEOWatcher
2005-Oct-25, 02:09 PM
Speaking of which, IS the "Stealth" aircraft a huge leap in technology? It just seemed to me to be a jet that's black with a different chassis, to best keep it from being picked up on radar.

Is this really that "incredible"?
I agree that putting existing technologies together may seem ho-hum, but in the case of the Stealth, the new technology is a plane that is inherently unstable.

The Mangler
2005-Oct-25, 04:31 PM
I agree that putting existing technologies together may seem ho-hum, but in the case of the Stealth, the new technology is a plane that is inherently unstable.

You also have to consider that when those planes went operational, it was a giant leap in technology, at the time. The F-117 first flew in 1981. The U-2 in 1955. The SR-71 (I can't remember the year, but I want to say early '70s.)

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-25, 04:51 PM
What made the stealth plane so much of a giant leap in technology, is my question. And how unstable are they?

The Mangler
2005-Oct-25, 05:27 PM
All fighter planes are unstable, that's why they can manuever so fast. The F-117, for example is more unstable than most planes. It could not fly without the computer always making small adjustments. Plus when the F-117 was designed, it used technology that completly blew away anything comparable (if there even was anything comparable). A russian scientist (don't remember his name) came up with the idea, but the Soviet gov't didn't see any practical applications for it (ironic that we were using russian technology the build new planes to stay ahead of them). Anoter ironic thing with russia... The SR-71 was built mostly with russian titanium. There was a titanium shortage at the time, and russia has vast titanium fields.

The Mangler
2005-Oct-25, 05:31 PM
If you are inerested in reading more about stealth technology, read the book "Skunk Works" by Ben Rich & Leo Janos. Ben Rich took over Lockheed's Skunk Works after the retirment of Kelly Johnson. Johnson designed the U-2. Rich helped on this project and on the SR-71. Rich also designed the F-117. It's a very good book if you are interested in learning more about those three aircraft.

ToSeek
2005-Oct-25, 06:03 PM
Speaking of which, IS the "Stealth" aircraft a huge leap in technology? It just seemed to me to be a jet that's black with a different chassis, to best keep it from being picked up on radar.

Is this really that "incredible"?


For the first time, every aspect of the F-117 was designed around stealth. For the plane's designers, reducing the radar signature was similar to the way that airplane designers of the 1920s had reduced drag: they identified the biggest causes of the problem and then eliminated them one by one. The cockpit, which is essentially a cavity that reflects radar in much the same way that an animal's eyes reflect light from a flashlight at night, was sharply angled and coated with a reflective material that deflected the radar energy in different directions. The airplane had no radar and its sensors and antennas could be retracted into the fuselage. The bombs, a major source of radar reflection on most airplanes, were stored internally in a bomb bay so that they reflected no radar energy. The inlets for the jet engines were covered with fine screens to prevent radar energy from reaching the face of the engine turbines. The exhaust was channeled through long narrow ducts lined with heat-absorbing material so that it was cooler by the time it exited the plane and therefore did not show up as well on heat detectors.

- http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Evolution_of_Technology/Stealth_aircraft/Tech31.htm

hhEb09'1
2005-Oct-25, 06:19 PM
Another expression if you analyse it says the opposite to what is meant is "Quantum Leap" In reality a leap of an electron from one "quantum" level to another is quite tiny.That happens with a lot of metaphors--phrases that borrow the imagery tend to emphasize one aspect, but there are other aspects that make the metaphor inappropriate. In this case, a quantum leap is going from one level to another level, which is very significant, although it is true that the usual quantum jumps are energetically small. Same with "meteoric rise"--the reference is to the speed and brilliance of the phenomenon, but of course most meteors are not rising, they're falling.

I feel the same way when someone says gas prices have become astronomical--but they're not beautiful at all :)

You also have to consider that when those planes went operational, it was a giant leap in technology, at the time. The F-117 first flew in 1981. The U-2 in 1955. The SR-71 (I can't remember the year, but I want to say early '70s.)early sixties (http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/lockheed_sr71.htm)

Jim
2005-Oct-25, 06:31 PM
The first SR-71 Blackbird flight was in December 1964; it went operational in 1966.

I remember this because some years back I bought this really neat looking airplane model kit. I showed it to a friend of my father's, who had something to do with the Air Force. He looked at the pictures on the box, read the description, and asked me where I had bought it. He was very serious through the whoe conversation.

My dad's friend was in AF Special Ops. He was interested because Revell had put a model of the SR-71 on the store shelves in September 1964, before the plane even flew. It was still Top Secret.

(He also told me the story of how the U2 became public knowledge. Neat guy.)

The Mangler
2005-Oct-25, 08:17 PM
The first SR-71 Blackbird flight was in December 1964; it went operational in 1966.

And to think, it's still among the most advanced craft to take to the air, after more than 40 years. Built for one purpose, to fly very fast (and high). ...And carry a camera. Ok, 3 purposes.

The Mangler
2005-Oct-25, 08:20 PM
It's a shame that it was retired. They calim that satillites can do it better. It is called back into service occaisionaly though. ...The operating costs were just so high because of fuel consumption.