Episode 4 – Mechnically Speaking

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In this episode of Technically Speaking, Jacob and Joe talk with paleontologist/podcaster/heartbreaker/polymath Ryan Haupt (of Science… Sort Of fame!) about how balloons could be the backbone of the next generation internet. Ryan helps us to understand how the upper atmosphere works as we try to understand Google’s Project Loon, and how it might possibly be implemented to achieve Google’s goal of “Internet for Everyone.”

 Then we debut a BRAND NEW SEGMENT that’s so secret that you’ll have to listen to find out!

But then we get down to business… In this iteration of our patent-pending “BrainStorm” segment, we try to figure out how to make Ryan’s childhood dream of becoming a real-life MechWarrior, come true. Assuming there’s a need to construct a giant bi-pedal war machine, how would you actually build it? What would be the design requirements? And just how useful would it be against a jet fighter or a tank? Or would it really just succeed in making war… fun?

Listen! Comment! Share with your friends and email us some future brainstorming ideas!


“99 Luftballons” – Nena

“99 Red Balloons” – Nena

Posted in Episodes
7 comments on “Episode 4 – Mechnically Speaking
  1. Alex says:

    My beef with BattleMechs is that I don’t ever see bipedal weapons getting more than hardsuit sized, because of the basic realities of lines of fire; lets say you have a BattleMech cresting a hill- long before it gets over the hill, the torso and possibly head of the mech are exposed to enemy fire- and since the weight limitations prevent you from having lots of armor, a kinetic penatrator fired from a cheap self-propelled artillery tank could take out a core component or the squishy pilot.

    Tanks(and prone, crawling soldiers) work because they are longer than they are high, with the guns being one of the first parts of the system to emerge from cover or defilade.

    But 10-ft tall 1-ton dudes in armor with GMPGs? Sure! They would be important for doing stuff like the construction equipment they would be based on- sledgehammering man-sized holes in walls for other troops to come through, moving or rapidly filling Hescos, carrying artillery, that sort of thing. They would be too fragile for assault.

    • Bob says:

      Good point. One thing about combat that’s often not represented in games is that a direct hit with an appropriate weapon is probably a kill, so you really want to avoid getting hit. (Possible exception: naval surface warfare.) You never see Mechs throwing themselves prone to avoid enemy fire — I don’t remember that even being an option in BattleTech.

      Armor is often sloped to deflect projectiles, but it seems difficult to do that if you insist on building your Mech in an upright configuration.

      I wasn’t able to find a plausible expansion for GMPG. I see GPMG (general purpose machine gun).

  2. Eden says:

    More info on “Charley’s Paper” regarding the ESOI number please!

  3. Yuriy says:

    The surface area of the earth is 5.1×10^8 km^2, to calculate the number of balloons to cover that area (without redundancy) we should actually assume that each balloon is covering a hexagon (because we don’t want gaps between the circles, right?) Which makes the area covered by a balloon is ((20km)^2 * 6 * sqrt(3)/4) = 1039 km^2, meaning that to cover the entire Earth you need 490,747 balloons. A million balloons and you can get redundancy over the entire planet. A million is not a big number on a planetary scale.

  4. Jinx33 says:

    Loving your podcast. Especially this episode on Battlemechs. The practical (not sure if that applies when talking about 30 ft tall metal war machines)way you discussed the problems associated with creating a battlemech was quite interesting and insightful. The very fact that a podcast went into that was cool in and of itself. Thanks guys for putting it out there.
    But what I also want to know is if any of you, Ryan included, have played Mechwarrior Online. It officially launched yesterday and is free to play. Give it a try. Bet you can’t beat the rush of running into a 100 ton Atlas, blasting away, and living to tell about it. Hope to see you in-game.

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