(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘espionage

Spy vs. Spy…

For most of the latter half of the 20th century, the United States and the Soviet Union were leading adversaries in the nuclear arms race known as the Cold War. Seemingly no potential advantage was to be overlooked, regardless of sector or industry. This was true in technology and espionage as well, and, in the 1960s, the CIA found a marriage of the two which could have been a potential game-changer.

That innovation? A bionic spy cat named the Acoustic Kitty.

According to former CIA agent turned author Victor Marchetti, the CIA had developed a way to, literally, wire a cat so that it could be used in espionage missions. The CIA surgically implanted a power supply into the cat, as well as wires going into its brain and its ears. A microphone was layered into its ears and an antenna through its tail. The implanted device was able to determine when the cat was aroused or hungry and suppress those urges, allowing it to carry out its mission — cuddle up to some Soviets and listen to their conversations. The entire operation, from start until its end, cost the government somewhere in the ballpark of $20 million and took about five years to develop.

In testing, the CIA discovered that the Acoustic Kitty had a fatal flaw. A surveillance van drove up to the test subjects and released the cat, which again according to Marchetti, made its way across the street unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is, by an oncoming taxi cab, which struck the cat, killing it immediately.

The CIA decided to drop the spy cat program soon thereafter.

From kindred spirit (public broadcasting guy who does a daily email/blog) Dan Lewis, whose Now I Know is always a treat.


As we beef up our bionics, we might recall that one cat did make it through: on this date in 1979 Elton John became the first Western pop star to play a live concert in what was then the Soviet Union, as he performed in Leningrad, kicking off a hugely-successful Evil-Empire-wide tour.

Elton behind the (Iron) Curtain

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

Turning two bits into… well, about 1.6 bits…

In case the economic turmoil of the last year or so hasn’t done enough to reduce the size of one’s assets, the good folks at Stoneridge Engineering (motto:  “wreaking havoc with electrons for over forty years”) have gone public with information which can help:  “All About Quarter Shrinking (or “Makin’ Small Change”©).”

Before and After

As Stoneridge explains:

The Quarter Shrinker uses a technology called high velocity electromagnetic forming, or “Magneforming.” This is a “high energy rate” process that was originally developed by the aerospace industry in conjunction with NASA…  It involves quickly discharging a high energy  capacitor bank through a work coil to generate an extremely powerful, rapidly changing magnetic field which then “forms” the metal to be fabricated. The technique uses pulsed power to generate a very high current pulse over a very short time interval… To shrink coins, I charge up a large high voltage capacitor bank consisting of a number of large “energy discharge” capacitors. Each capacitor is specially designed to reliably store up to 12,000 volts and deliver 100,000 ampere discharges.

The initial energy stored within the capacitor bank is typically in the range of 3,500 – 6,300 Joules (watt-seconds). Because this energy is discharged in as little as 20 millionths of a second, the instantaneous power is very large and, for a brief instant, is roughly equivalent to the electrical power consumed by a good sized city. The repulsion forces between the work coil and the coin create tremendous radial compressive forces that easily overcome the yield strength of  the metal alloys in the coin, causing the coin to plastically deform into a smaller diameter. The higher the initial energy, the greater the degree of “shrinkage”. Applying a 6,300 joule pulse results in a quarter whose final diameter is about 0.1″ SMALLER than a dime!

See a video demo and more photos– the technique works on other coins too!– here.

(Oh, and lest one wonder: the title of this post notwithstanding, a shrunken coin weighs exactly the same as before, and its density is unchanged. The coin becomes thicker as its diameter is reduced; the overall volume stays the same.)
As we call it, heads or tails, we might note– or then again, we might not be able to note– that on this date in 1775 invisible ink was developed by James Jay, a physician and the brother of John Jay.  Dr. Jay was knighted by George III before the “unpleasantness with the Colonies”…  he might have rethought the bestowal had he known that Jay was using the “stain” for reporting military information from London to America.

source: LoneRanger on Final4Ever

Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 29, 2009 at 1:01 am

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