Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Transference Of Fear

Like a lot of skeptics, I’m a True Detective fan.

One point of abject amazement for those of us paid to think critically is the phenomenon of fundamentalism (of any flavor). What occurs in someone’s head, that allows them to abandon logic and reason only in specific situations (e.g., a tent revival)?



Rustin Cohle: What’s it say about life, hmm? You gotta get together, tell yourself stories that violate every law of the universe just to get through the goddamn day? Nah. What’s that say about your reality, Marty?
Transference of fear and self-loathing to an authoritarian vessel. It’s catharsis. He absorbs their dread with his narrative. Because of this, he’s effective in proportion to the amount of certainty he can project. Certain linguistic anthropologists think that religion is a language virus that rewrites pathways in the brain. Dulls critical thinking. quality=90

For me, the shedding of fear and self-loathing is as simple as

a 1000-calorie sweatfest at Barry’s Bootcamp.

It feels great, and it’s doctrine-free!


The Physics of Vertical Takeoff

No, this isn’t trick photography. This is a very good pilot at this year’s Farnborough Air Show, performing a vertical takeoff in Boeing’s new Dreamliner — roughly 225,000 kg taking off like a rocket.

But — isn’t it common knowledge that

vertical flight = stalls = crash?

Remember Colgan Air 3407?

So — what’s going on here?

What you’re seeing is a vertical flight path. Flying horizontally first, the airplane pitches up until the nose is pointing straight into the sky.


You don’t need thrust for this. Even gliders can do it. What you’re seeing is  kinetic energy (speed of the plane on the runway)  converted to potential energy —  and accelerating 250 tons to nearly 200 miles per hour builds tremendous kinetic energy! With so much potential energy, vertical flight can be maintained for several seconds, until the aircraft runs out of speed and stops in midair.

In the video, I count about 6 seconds of vertical flight before the pilot drops the nose. 

In aerobatics, this maneuver is called a stall turn or a hammerhead stall.



For a craft weighing x kg you need g*x Newtons of thrust, minimum, for sustained vertical flight. For each metric ton of weight you need around 9.81 kN of thrust. The Dreamliner has a operational empty weight of 225 tons, so it would need 2453 kN of thrust to sustain a vertical climb. Its 2 GEnx engines, each producing 330 kN, don’t provide nearly enough power. This is why it is necessary to pitch up to vertical while shedding speed — making this awe-inspiring manouever  possible without thrust.