Tag: GPS

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October 4th was the 64th anniversary of the “shock of the century”. People in the West quickly realized that the launch of Sputnik 1 also meant that the Soviets had a rocket that could be used as an ICBM. Two obscure events three days later tracking the satellite helped lead to GPS which has been […]

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Do You Have Lamarr in Your Car?

 

It has been suggested that the short-range wireless protocol known as Bluetooth should instead have been called Lamarr, in honor of the actress/inventor Hedy Lamar.

Hedy (maiden name Kiesler) was born in Vienna in 1914. From her early childhood, she was fascinated by acting–and she was also very interested in how things worked, an interest which was encouraged by her bank-director father. She began acting professionally in the late 1920s, and gained fame and notoriety when she appeared–briefly nude–in the film Ecstasy.  It was followed by the more respectable Sissy, in which she played the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

In 1933, Hedy married the arms manufacturer Friedrich Mandl, finding him charming and fascinating and also probably influenced by his vast wealth. She was soon turned off by his Fascist connections and his extremely controlling nature–rather ridiculously, he even tried to buy up all copies and negatives of Ecstasy.  He did not allow her to pursue her acting career but did require her to participate, mainly as eye-candy, in high-level meetings with German and Italian political leaders and with people involved in military technology. What she heard at these sessions both interested and alarmed her.

‘You Better Go to Raw Data’

 

People operating complex machines and systems–ships, aircraft, and nuclear power plants, for example–are often dependent on information that has been processed or filtered in some way. The same is true of people exercising their responsibilities as citizens in a large and complex society, inasmuch as they cannot directly and personally observe most of the relevant facts and events.  Disasters that occur in complex physical systems can serve as a metaphor to help shed light on disasters–actual and potential–in the political sphere.

On June 9, 1995, the cruise ship Royal Majesty was on a routine voyage in good weather.  The vessel was equipped with GPS, which displayed latitude and longitude position…which the crew diligently plotted..and also drove a moving map overlaid on the radar scope.

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I’ve written about this before, but now tales are being spun in Forbes. I’m working on a response and would appreciate comments. Here’s my draft. The recent Forbes article by Ethan Siegel claims that, “GPS Only Exists Because Of Two People: Albert Einstein and Gladys West”. Preview Open

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I have the OnX GPS maps on my phone that show all the land ownership and hunting access for everywhere. It’s so cool and makes enjoying public lands really easy. I was wondering if there was a GPS map one can buy that has the boundaries of different governing bodies like State Legislatures, Congressional Districts, […]

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Two Degrees of Separation

 

There’s a theory that they’re only at most six degrees of separation between all people living today. But it’s interesting to consider how many degrees of separation there are between people today and famous people of the past. I’ve been considering for a while writing a biography of Capt. P.V.H. Weems. He was a major figure in developing aerial navigation in the 1920s-40s. He taught Lindbergh celestial navigation after he flew to Paris.

John Glenn’s Flight

 

In elementary school, they brought TVs into our classrooms so we could watch the Mercury missions. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth (after many delays and cancellations).

I found this copy of one of my father’s souvenirs yesterday. I think this track comes from my father’s Naval Space Surveillance System. Two years later, it would help inspire him to start his navsat program Timation which led to GPS.

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The New York Post wrote that Con Ed, so far, has not been able to determine what caused the recent power outage in Manhattan. They originally thought it was caused by a fire, but confirmed it wasn’t. The “thorough” investigation is ongoing. Power was out for hours and brought the city to a halt. Think […]

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Never Argue with Sophia!

 

She’s stubborn as all get out. When she makes a plan, she sticks with it and won’t let anyone interfere. She argues with us incessantly, and when we go against her wishes, she reluctantly goes along, but only after several protests. She always wants to go back to her original plan. And she is so polite, too; it’s very annoying to see that nothing ruffles her. But most of the time we defer to her: after all, what do a couple of old geezers know about these things?!

So who is Sophia? She is our GPS system. Not the name we gave our GPS system, she is the system. We have Android Auto in our car, and sometimes I’d like to throttle Google.

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The GPS rollover last Saturday was mostly a nonevent (thankfully). But NYC has problems which continue: On April 6, something known as the GPS rollover, a cousin to the dreaded Y2K bug, mostly came and went, as businesses and government agencies around the world heeded warnings and made software or hardware updates in advance. Preview Open

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Affirmative Action in Inventions

 

Last June, I attended my monthly nonfiction writers meeting. Afterward, I spoke to the black gentleman sitting next to me. He mentioned that he’d just found out that a black woman invented GPS. I said that was strange since my father invented it. He chuckled and said that I was holding out on him. I looked it up and a Dr. Gladys West was the person. It appears that she worked on refining satellite orbits and models of the earth. She did valuable work but is one of hundreds or thousands of people at that level. I dismissed it; errors about the origins of GPS are rife and in spite of my extensive writings about it I’m a relatively obscure person.

More recently, the articles about Dr. West have multiplied and an unrelated erroneous documentary about the origins of GPS was released.

How to Make a GPS System

 

The GPS has three segments:

1. Space segment: The original requirement was for 24 satellites in circular orbits in three symmetrical planes (120 degrees apart) at 12-hour orbits. Today, the Air Force uses 31 satellites in six symmetrical planes at 55 degrees of inclination (the satellites go as far as 55 degrees north and south). The satellites contain synchronized atomic clocks (mainly rubidiums).

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A Chicago free weekly paper, The Reader, used to have a column titled “Dumb Crook News”.  This is the type of story which would be featured.  https://www.nbc4i.com/news/u-s-world/thieves-caught-hours-after-stealing-gps-tracking-devices-from-tech-company/1064820202 Preview Open

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Many of you know that I’ve been researching, writing, and speaking for the past thirteen years about the history of GPS. I recently wrote an article about a new GPS documentary which may be of interest. I submitted two exhibits and appendices which were excluded from the published article; I can add them in a […]

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Why I Don’t Have a Smart Phone: Five True Stories

 

1. I was carpooling with some people on a six-hour trip (to Urbana), but before we could start, we had to get on the highway. Our GPS navigator took us right past the highway on-ramp we all knew, down some other road, then on a crazy four- or five-mile detour through other neighborhoods and odd side streets, finally coming full circle, back to the same on-ramp where we had started, which, this time, we took.

2.  For the next six hours, an extroverted older guy (maybe in his sixties) sat next to a younger guy (early twenties) and tried to make polite conversation. Even though they didn’t know each other previously, the older guy was friendly and full of energy, and it was clear that he really valued human interaction. The younger guy sometimes engaged, but his talking and even his listening eventually trailed off, as he lost interest in the conversation and paid more and more attention to reading whatever was on his phone. Perhaps unintentionally, the younger guy’s visible boredom sent the message loud and clear that he wasn’t interested in talking to the older guy. I ended up feeling bad for the older guy, and spending a lot of the trip engaging with him, even though we were sitting in different rows and had to crane some to make it work.

3.  A friend of mine, a psychologist, notices a trend: She has always had toys available in her waiting room, for any children who come. At the beginning of her career, it was a pretty reliable rule that children loved toys; now, some decades later, children seem less and less interested in the toys, or anything that requires manual dexterity to manipulate or use; the children may pick up a toy briefly, but they become frustrated or lose interest much more quickly, and revert to the one thing that still can hold their interest: a screen.