Ben Reinhardt

All writing by topic

Iceland is a Weird Place

If you were to ask an Icelandic sheep farmer freezing in his longhouse 500 years ago: "hey, will those rainy mountains and geysers make your descendants wealthy?" he would have said "you're crazy. sheep and fish are natural resources, rainy mountains just get in the way."  Fast forward 500 years. Those... [Read More]

Why are Rockets like Amphorae? Pt 1.

Short answer: They're both technological local maxima. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="171"] "whoo hoo, I'm a local maxima!"[/caption] Long answer: If asked "what container do you use to ship large volumes of wine?" the answer is  pretty clearly "the barrel, duh." But if you asked that question two thousand years ago, it... [Read More]

Sliding into testing

Testing on the ground removes all the characteristics of space that make eddy-currents and other exotic actuators useful there. Specifically, friction (with air or a surface) often overwhelms the small forces of spacecraft actuators that aren’t rocket powered. So, low friction test beds are necessary to experimentally verify things meant... [Read More]

Danger, Here Be Maths

A description of the latest research rabbit hole over at SSDS: where could you put a ping pong ball on the outside of the ISS, let go, and have it stick thanks to orbital mechanics? There is math and pretty pictures. It's also a test of $latex \LaTeX$  equations in... [Read More]