The Watering Hole: November 26 – Herman Potočnik(Noordung)


At the end of 1928 the Austro-Hungarian rocket engineer Herman Potočnik(Pseudonym -Hermann Noordung) (Here’s more.) set out a plan for the establishment of a permanent human presence in Earth orbit. He conceived of a space station and was the first to calculate the geostationary orbit at which the station would orbit the Earth and remain in constant contact with the country of origin.

Author Arthur C. Clarke is credited with proposing the notion of using geostationary orbits for communications satellites in 1945. The orbit was coined as the Clarke (But neither Noordung nor Potočnik) Orbit. Together, a collection of artificial satellites in these orbits is called the Clarke Belt. At that time, Clarke believed that human technology was at least 50 years away. He missed by 32 years.

Syncom 2 was the first communications satellite placed in a geosynchronous orbit in 1963. However, it was in an inclined orbit which caused it to wobble north and south, still requiring the use of moving antennas.

Syncom 3 was the first true geostationary communication satellite. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on August 19, 1964 using a Delta D. The satellite in orbit near the International Date Line was used to telecast the 1964 Summer Olympics from Tokyo to the United States.

Geostationary orbits have been in common use ever since, mainly for satellite television.

This is your Open Thread. Please feel free to add to the discussion.

88 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: November 26 – Herman Potočnik(Noordung)

  1. Interesting post. I often wonder why we haven’t built the “wheels in space” — other than money of course — but are there technical challenges to the concept?

    Anyway, as soon as I read this post, the line from Donald Fagen’s I.G.Y. popped into my head. “Get your ticket to that wheel in space, while there’s time…” This is a fun song about what the future was meant to look like (from the context of the late 50’s). Enjoy.

  2. Chris Hayes needs to slow down. He’s talking so fast I can’t follow the topic. It’s his show, so he should control the pace of the discussion.

    • Wilderness hikers, novice to the wilds of Alaska, stopped by a ranger station to inquire about bears.

      “If you want to protect yourself from bears, tie little bells in your boot laces. That will let the bears know you’re coming and they’ll wander off.” The ranger said.

      “What if they don’t leave?’ asked the first hiker.

      “Then use pepper spray.” answered the Ranger. “Now, there’s two kinds of bears up here. Brown bears and Grizzly bears.”

      “How will we know which type of bears are around?” asked the second hiker.

      “Look at the droppings.” the ranger replied. “Brown bears droppings will reflect its natural diet of nuts and berries.”

      “And Grizzly bears?” asked the first hiker.

      “Those droppings will contain little bells and have a strong smell of pepper spray.”

  3. From PoliticsUSA:

    For the past two days, Americans around the country have used Thanksgiving to express gratitude for family, friends, and good fortune, and in keeping with that sentiment and tradition, the President gave a special Thanksgiving radio address to express his gratitude to America’s service men and women for their dedication in protecting our country overseas and at home. The President also gave thanks to volunteers around the country who gave their time and resources to help feed less fortunate Americans as well as his personal list that included “pilgrims, pioneers, and patriots.” Apparently though, President Obama forgot to clear his “gratitude list” with Christians who are outraged he did not give thanks to or acknowledge god.

    Oh fuck, the President forgot GOD!!!!!! And he asked each of us to do our part to help!!!! 🙄

      • The “pal” says:

        . . . All of you who have been less than kind in your assessment of Bill for his practice of that freedom, should be ashamed of yourselves. Every American has the right of freedom of speech, through the printed word or spoken, and for you to look down upon that right is to declare that not only do you not believe in the American Constitution, but to also declare to all that listen that you do not care to be branded an American. How sad that is.

        If the dude would have been pepper sprayed a few times by a belligerent cop I might find some sympathy. Maybe.

        I guess I’ve reached the point where I’m so fucking sick of shallow-minded ignorance (example: Republican “debates”, among myriad other nonsense) that my tolerance for ignorance is at an all time low. I really and truly do wish there was somewhere for me to go (and that I could get to) where ignorance and idiocy (and IdDeusSee) are NOT the freakin’ norm!

        Amurka: Bah humbug!

        • Exactly who is denying this man his right of free speech? He is free to say whatever he wants, just as we are free to condemn him for saying stupid things. Nobody is going to deprive him of his freedom. Does anyone on the right understand what the First Amendment means? It certainly doesn’t mean that you have the right to say what you want unchallenged by your fellow citizens!

        • Honoring freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can’t criticize the content of that speech — that’s what MY freedom of speech means. More than any other group I’ve encountered over the decades, the wingers are the most unwilling to subject their opinions to any scrutiny at all. Even vegans aren’t quite that bad.

  4. Am ambivalent about space/planet exploration as we seem to leave litter in our wake of finding out about our neighbors. “Curiosity” is a fitting name for the Mars rover, though!

    NASA Launches Most Capable and Robust Rover To Mars

    A signal from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, including the new Curiosity rover, has been received by officials on the ground. The spacecraft is flying free and headed for Mars after separation from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that started it on its journey to the Red Planet. Liftoff was on time at 10:02 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

    • Once the roving cameras are rolling, we can expect a statement from the Demos-crats saying that they appreciate curiosity, but do to the lack of funding caused by the obstructionist Retro-cats, they will not be formulating any response at this time.
      The Retro-cats will state emphatically that there is not, never has been nor ever will be; any life on Mars.

  5. The Mystery of the Little Norwegian Chessmen

    A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcases strange and charming chess pieces from the Middle Ages…

    Around 900 years ago, someone left 93 intricately carved ivory chess pieces in the sand of a bay on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis. Sometime before 1831, a local man unearthed them. Why they were left there has never been determined.

  6. Watching a disturbing documentary on MSNBC while I do chores (sort of a followup to Jesus Camps)… it’s called Teen Mania in Texas. They use mind control and terrorism to break teens and then brainwash them into “loving” Jesus.

    • Churches have been brainwashing kids for centuries. They start before kids can even understand the real difference between right and wrong and just keep on drilling for as long as the person allows it. The constant reinforcement of ideas about how it is the only way and they will BIH if they stray and other fun things would be disturbing and fought if someone tried it with anything other than religion.

      • Agreed. This seems to take it to quite another level. They are making kids eat vomit inducing “foods” like on fear factor and then make them roll down a hill.
        Push ups in muddy water. Climbing down a ladder into a deep drum with standing water in the base. Degrading inhumane treatment. Cult-like.

        Makes one wonder why so many Christians aren’t against water-boarding.

        (BTW over $18 million a year profit in 2010. Quite the racket.)

        • LL, it wouldn’t count against the fundies as long as it’s in the “name of Jesus”.

          I’d really like to see the statistics on the number of children dragged through this training humiliation either end up with psychological issues or have the capacity for empathy/sympathy crushed right out of them.

  7. For a while now I have been trying to decide how to redo the kitchen ceiling. It is presently 2×4 acoustic tile. The problem has always been that due to steam from cooking and washing dishes has resulted in sagging tiles after a year or so. And they tend to suck up any cooking grease/etc which results in discoloration. It’s a suspended ceiling because the plumbing for the upstairs bathroom is accessed along one wall. (The overflow on the trap a while back sort of ate a few tiles as well.

    Today I have been pondering alternatives. One would be to use the new laminate flooring to make tiles. Easy to clean, probably durable as hell on a ceiling but it looks like a picture of wood. That led me to thinking about the tongue and groove pine I used in the bathroom. Its only about 1/4″ thick but each tile takes 14 2′ pieces that have to be cut then glued together. And then urethaned to seal. Lots of futz work.

    One thing I do know is I’m building a pedestal in the center of the ceiling so I can install a ceiling fan. Only room in the house that doesn’t have one.

      • Remodeling was always a favorite hobby for me. Before my heart surgery I redid the kitchen 3 times, even moved it to a different room, before I settled on this version. The ceiling was the last project in the evolution and now I’m feeling like getting back into it.

  8. I just put the finishing touches on a book of minature wargaming rules for the Napoleonic era. (yeah, I still play with toy soldiers) There’s already a publisher interested in this project. I’ll keep you all posted as to how it goes.

  9. Luck is such a wonderful thing. I decided on the T&G wood and I had some pine left over from another project so I cut it to length and replaced a tile with it to see how it would work and look. Good news was, being T&G, I don’t have to glue them together. Also, it looks pretty good so I ran out to the local lumber store and was looking to buy more. I noticed that the prefinished pine was running $19 a bundle and the prefinished cedar was on sale for $14. Since the kitchen is done in sage green, terra cotta (sort of) with copper accents, the cedar fits well. Plus I love the smell. Win, win.

    I have about a 1/4 of the ceiling done but I’m going to have to do some glueing for where the can lighting goes.

  10. The downtown was just packed today with people shopping in the small stores. I hope the merchants did well, a lot of them lost stock in our earthquake last summer. It makes me happy to see how many people really do get it, and make an effort to support their local small businesses.

    • Our stores are sparsely attended right now, but the Auburn fans will be heading out to shop soon. Alabama 24- Auburn 7 at the half.
      The Auburn score was due to the Tide quarterback being blindsided and fumbling the ball into the end zone so they could score with Alabama’s defense on the sideline.

      The last time Alabama lost to Auburn by one point in a miracle comeback like last year was 1972. The next year the Tide won 35-0.

    • Today is Shop Local Saturday.

      We have a local Festival of Lights in our little burb where I plan to buy things from local vendors. I too hope the little guy has a good year.

    • I’ll be heading over to Antique Row in Sellwood tomorrow. In pursuit of some vintage cocktail glassware. Much of what is peddled online is actually the likes of sherbert glasses (too thick) or “vintage” glassware from the 70s. I have found some good stuff in the antique stores, but it’s hit or miss. No big box shopping at all at all.

      Apparently the Staties made massive scores on Thursday night near the outlet malls on I-5. They handed out something over 80 tickets and busted someone with a pocket full of weed as a bonus.

      • Maybe he was going to light it off in hopes of quelling the crowd.
        Wonder if he would have remembered to take it out of his pocket?
        Alas, we’ll never know.

  11. My world is back in sync again. Alabama 42- Auburn 14! Roll Tide!

    Alabama’s next stop: New Orleans on January 9th against LSU (rematch!), unless the voters screw us over!

    • From the website:
      According to the American Atheists’ website, at, “there is no effort here to convert theists into atheists, but there IS an attempt to get the church pew atheists to consider what they are doing. If they look at our billboard and see four myths, including Jesus, then why are they going to church and donating money?

      Perhaps because some churches do good works caring for people in need, and folks support such works regardless of the religious dogma that motivates them.

      • I wonder if there is a correlation between the size of the church and the good works done. It is my feeling that small churches are far better at including more people in need than a mega church. Mega church’s give me a sense that if your not a member in need than forget it and if your a member in need then you better be ready to ‘pay’ for the ‘care’ you get.

        • I always wonder about people that choose to go to a mega church. Why do they go? For the show? The entertainment value? Just like belonging to a mega bank, they are both pretty impersonal the larger they are.

          • Maybe they like the larger congregations, it’s much easier to blend in and attract less attention to how they really lead their lives.
            ‘Lovely hat, Millie!”
            “Thank you, I got it at Target!”
            “You’re such a good christian!

            • Reckon Hoodathunk’s cedar-lined kitchen would qualify? It would at least smell like a closet. 😀

            • Services outside reminds me of an episode of Vicar of Dibley where Geraldine had the parish bring their pets to a service. I finally get a Saturday night free to watch the Britcoms, and they are having pledge drive ‘specials’ instead of the regular shows.

          • We’ve never asked.

            There’s a mega monstrosity that sits on a corner. “Empty” field to the back; north and across the street.

            We’ll be observing: Long Billed Curlews; Burrowing Owls; Kestrels, etc. The ‘church’ has a Wednesday service – and if we’re birding a few church-goers leaving will ask us why were looking at the ’empty’ field. We point out their neighbors (rabbits, squirrels and all the avian life). “Oh I never knew that”.
            That cracks me up.
            They close themselves in a building – show adoration to a deity they claim made everything There’s an opportunity all around them to hold worship outside to take in all the wonders and beauty Ma Nature (or their god) has offered. Yet no one notices – too busy ‘singing praises’; keeping their noses in bible, etc.

            • That always amazes me that people can walk around and never notice the life that goes on around them. Sometimes, in the morning, before dawn, I will see a coyote (or a pac of javelinas) running down the street or across the street and I am always awed by the nature that comes out of the hills and into our neighborhood.

  12. Stanford is making my second Tide Trifecta of the year a reality by beating Notre Dame tonight. They just went ahead by 21 at the half.

    Kirk Herbstreit, (or is it Herb Kirkstreit?) says Alabama is ‘in the clubhouse’ as the number two team in the nation, and has a lock on a berth in the BCS title game. Since LSU has to play Georgia next week, but should win easily, the rematch is a foregone conclusion. I sure hope so, because Alabama can only improve their gameplan compared to the regular season contest.

    • It’s a foregone conclusion tonight. Notre Dame is not in Stanford’s class this year.
      Oregon and UCLA will play in the first Pac 12 Championship game, because Oregon beat Stanford head to head in the North Division, and the winner goes to the Rose Bowl, but I expect Stanford to play in a BCS level bowl.

  13. Hooray! The NBA lockout is over! Now we won’t have a thousand hours of tractor pull video on the sports channels.

    You just thought you were settling in for a quiet evening! 👿

    • He always meets me at the door when I get home. I generally find at least one towel is pulled down off the towel bar in the bathroom to make a place to nap, and any garbage can he can reach is scattered out somewhat.

      You think he’s part dog?

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