Posts tagged ‘us’

US Navy Employs Dolphins and Sea Lions for Some Missions

While they’re not exactly sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, they are the next best thing — dolphins natural biosonar is better than anything manmade.

The US Navy Seals have about 75 dolphins and 35 sea lions that are trained to assist with search and recovery type missions. The dolphins have excellent biosonar, making it easy for them to find objects in the water: friendly people, dangerous people, mines and more. They also use sea lions, which have amazing underwater vision, allowing them to find objects on the seafloor.

Think of them as the Navy’s version of the K9 unit. These animals can be deployed by aircraft or vessel anywhere in the world in 72 hours.

The program began in the 1960s and the animals have been deployed in numerous missions, including mine clearing in Iraq and protecting various naval ports.

The sea lions can find threats in the water too and have been credited with saving the Navy millions of dollars simply by recovering dropped equipment and weapons.

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Image: Bodhi Suft School (cc)

Sources: CNN

August 3, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

The President’s Limo Carries a Supply of the President’s Blood

By Chad Upton | Editor

My car is well equipped for typical roadside issues. I’ve got jumper cables, a flashlight, gloves, tools, snacks and a space pen for writing notes on Earth’s coldest days.

The space pen is probably extreme, but that’s nothing compared to the US President’s limo.

It’s officially known as “The Presidential State Car” and unofficially known as “Cadillac One”, a reference to the naming convention of presidential aircraft like Airforce One. It’s a custom built vehicle, based on a heavy duty truck chassis, which can carry a lot of weight, much of which comes from heavy armor to protect the occupants from gunfire and explosives.

The passenger compartment is hermetically sealed to protect against chemical attacks and includes its own oxygen supply and fire fighting system. There are two driver vision enhancement systems that allow the driver to see in complete darkness and see through thick smoke.

The doors do not open by simply pulling on the doorhandles, apparently only the secret service knows exactly how to unlatch the doors. None of the windows roll down, except for the driver’s, which drops just enough to pass a big mac through.

With its top speed of 60 mph (96.5 km/h), it’s not going to win any car races, but that’s not bad considering the estimated 15,000 lbs this tank weighs. That’s part of the reason it has heavy duty truck tires that are re-enforced with bulletproof kevlar.

There is a full communications and command center on board, along with multiple weapons. In the event that the president gets badly wounded, there is even a backup supply of his own blood on board.

I assume it has a space pen too.

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Sources: Wikipedia, Popular Mechanics, Jalopnik, Telegraph

Photo: Wikimedia (cc)

April 18, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

More US Money is Printed Than MONOPOLY Money

By Chad Upton | Editor

I was reading a recent story on cnbc.com and one “fact” seemed particularly unbelievable. It stated that each year, Parker Brothers prints more MONOPOLY money than the US government prints real currency. They even went so far as to say, “You can bet your little, old shoe that money fact is true!”

CNBC, I will take your bet.

In my attempt to track down the truth, I found that this myth is very wide spread. It’s not just CNBC, dozens of other sites make the same claim. I’m not sure where all of these sites got their info, but I like to go to the source.

The US bureau of Engraving and Printing is responsible for printing paper currency in the US. Their website has a page that details exactly how much currency has been printed each year since 1980. It’s very detailed and includes 4 years when $2 bills were printed, totaling about 500 million $2 bills printed since 1980.

Another interesting fact appears at the bottom of that page: 26 million currency notes are printed each day, with a face value of approximately $974 million. In fact, CNBC has this fact on their page too. Although, they quote it as per year rather than per day. I will give them a bit of credit here, the sentence is confusing and could be interpreted as “per year”, but a quick scan of the page can easily correct that interpretation. For example, more than 974 million $1 bills were printed in 2010. Even more $100 bills were printed. So, it can’t be a per year number.

In 2009, the US government printed a total of $2.1 trillion and in 2010 it was just over $2.0 trillion. That’s a lot of money and 95% of it replaces old money that is worn out.

US Currency with Monopoly Money

Next, I tracked down how much money Parker Brothers, a subsidiary of Hasbro, has printed. They started making MONOPOLY in 1935. Until 1998, $15,140 worth of MONOPOLY money was included in each game; current editions include $20,580.

Hasbro states that 250 million copies of MONOPOLY have been sold since 1935 (in 103 Countries and 37 languages). They’ve sold an average of 3.3 million copies per year. If we use the current edition, that would mean they print $67.7 billion during an average year.

At $2 trillion per year, the US government prints much more money than Parker Brothers. In fact, a few years of US currency printing exceeds all 76 years of Parker Brothers printing.

On the other hand, the US mint produces 14-20 billion coins per year. They don’t give a breakdown of the denominations, so it’s impossible to calculate the exact dollar value. Perhaps this myth started as a comparison to the number of coins the US Mint makes each year.

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Sources: Hasbro.com (faq, corporate info), US Bureau of Engraving and Printing, US Mint, CNBC, Wikipedia (Monopoly)

February 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 20 comments


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