Guest: David Woods     Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Stefaan Rillaert

David Woods has a new book out, so of course he has to talk about it on omega tau 🙂 His recent book is about the Saturn V launch vehicle, i.e., this time it is about the rocket, not about the spaceship. In this episode we dive into lots of details that we did not cover in the two Apollo episodes (episodes 83 and 97) — make sure you have listened to those before you listen to this one.

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Overview stages


Saturn V stages | Multistage rocket | Orbit insertion | Saturn I | Saturn IB

Third stage


Third stage : S-IVB

Guest: Paul Arbair     Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Pascal Becker

In October 2015, Joseph Tainter was my guest in omega tau 184 to discuss his concept of increasing complexity and eventual collapse of societies. In this episode, our guest Paul Arbair discusses these concepts in the light of today’s rising populism in several countries. The episode is based on two articles Paul wrote on his blog: one on Brexit and one on Trump.

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Introduction of the Guest


Paul Arbair | Thinktank

Technology / Technology Advancement


Rebound effect | Jevons paradox | Elevator pitch

Complexity from a Political Point of View


Guest: Rutger Vlek     Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Jochen Spalding

Late 2016, during a trip to the Netherlands, I visted Rutger Vlek of River Creative Technology in his home studio to record an episode about synthesizers. We talked about the basics of sound generation, various enveloping and filtering techniques, sound design, the different fundamental approaches of sound synthesis, as well as a couple of classic synths. Rutger illustrated lots of approaches with samples from some of his many synthesizers.

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Garbage collection


Roland D-50 | Interpolation | ARP 2600

Analog vs digital


Guest: Maria Hernek     Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Markus Voelter

Last fall I visited ESTECESA’s space research and technology center. In this first of three episodes, I talk with Maria Hernek, who heads the Flight Software Systems section. We talk about the challenges of space flight software, the development processes used by ESA and its vendors, as well as means of ensuring the required quality attributes. This episode can be seen as a continuation of the conversation with Andreas Wortmann in the OHB episode.

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Introduction Maria and Departments


Maria Hernek | Flight Software Section | Telecom Satellites | Navigation Satellites | Deep Space Missions | Galileo | EGNOS | Work Share with Vendors | Systems Engineering vs. Software Engineering

Development Process and Standards


Agile | Incremental Development | Scrum | Agile vs. Contracting | Assembly, Integration and Test | Assembly, Integration and Verification | Risk Management | ECSS Standard | Coding Guidelines | ECSS E40 | ECSS Q80 | Verification vs. Validation | Redundancy | Runtime Monitoring | Engineering Handbook | Java

Systems Engineering and High-Level Structure


Data Handling | AOCS System | GPS | Star Tracker | Central Data Management Unit | Rosetta Mission | Leon Processor | EOC 32 Processor | Sparc Instruction Set | Radiation Hardening | System-on-a-Chip | VHDL | ASIC | Redundancy | Hot/Cold Redundancy | CRC Checking | Reconfiguration Module | Watchdog | Single point of failure | Cross coupling | Design Drivers

Software Architecture, Communication and Operating System


Simulink | AOCS Mode | Telemetry | C | Instrument Software | Data Compression | Geostationary | On-Board Software | CAN Bus | Mil Std 1553 Bus | Deterministic Bus | System Integration | Bandwidth | Spacewire | TTCAN | Task | Deadline | Realtime Software | Multitasking | Non-Determinism | Cyclic Scheduler | Preemptive Scheduler | ARTEMS | Task Scheduling | Process Isolation | Inter Process Communication | VxWorks | QNX | Ada

Timing and other Analyses


Worst-case execution time | Interrupt Routine | Hierarchical Analysis | Prototyping | Bus Load Analysis | Runtime Monitoring | Utilization | Graceful Degradation | Safe Mode | Fail Safe | Fail Operational | Kopernikus Satellite

Tools, Languages, Qualification and Interfaces


Simulink | UML | Grady Booch | Layers Pattern | Driver | Ada | C | gcc | Scade | Tool Qualification | Interface Control Documents | Telecommand | MISRA-C | ASIL Levels | ATV



Maintainability | Patching | Code Generation | Reverification after a Patch | POLARSYS | ESOC | Outro and Call for Applications | Job ad 1 | Job ad 2

Guest: Rick Ruiz     Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Markus Voelter

Rick Ruiz is a pilot for Atlas Air where he flies various versions of the Boeing 747 freighter. Previously he flew the 767 and the 777 for LAN Chile, primarily cargo as well. Rick is also a crew member of the Airline Pilot Guy podcast, where he is known as Miami Rick. In this episode, we stroll through the woods around Landstuhl, Germany, where I visited Rick while he was on a layover. We geek out about flying the Big Boeings.

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Introduction Miami Rick


Airline Pilot Guy | Delta Connection Academy | LAN Chile | Boeing 767 | Airbus 320 | Landstuhl | Ramstein AB | Boeing 747 | Frankfurt Hahn | Travis AFB | Atlas Air | Localizer | ILS | Tacan | VOR | WAAS

Different 747 Freighter Variants


Boeing 747-400 BCF | EVA Air | Boeing 747-8 F | Boeing 747 LCF “Dreamlifter” | Opening Nose | MD-11F | Ram Air Pressure

Benefits of being an A&P Mechanic


E&E Compartment | Exhaust Gas Temperature | Quick Rerference Handbook | Loadmaster

Interesting Destinations


Old Quito Airport | Glide Slope | PAPI | Go Around | TOGA Button | Vertical Speed Mode | DME | Bank Angle Advisory | Cold Weather Operations | ACARS

Differences between the 747 Variants


Northwest Airlines | Mode Control Panel | PACK | IOE | Fly-by-Wire | Power Control Unit | Control-Wheel Steering | Flare Assist | Common Rating | GE Nx Engine | Ice Crystal Icing | LCD Screen | CRT Screen | EICAS | Electronic Checklist | Vertical Navigation System

The 777


TAC Thrust Asymmetry Compensation | N1 | N2 | EPR | ERV | RVR | FPA Flight Path Angle Mode | Nixus Project | Fly-by-wire vs. Classic | Stick vs. Yoke

The 767


A medium-sized airplane | Base Check | Rick’s Learning to fly | IOE | Becoming a captain on the 767 | Becoming an FO on the 777 | Seniority | 767 Routes at Atlas

Trips, Layovers and Wrap-up


Bidding for Lines | Part 117 Rest Requirements | Size of the Fleet | Osan AFB | British Caledonian

Guest: Darja Dubravcic     Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Kalpana Goel

Last fall I visited EPFL for a programming languages workshop when I saw a poster on bio inspired systemsDarja’s name was on the poster because she coordinates the programme; I sent her an email and asked if she wanted to talk a bit with me about this field while I am at EPFL. Her calendar had some free time, and so we met. In the episode we discuss why it makes sense for system designers to look at biology and nature as an inspiration and then explore lots of examples that are currently being researched at EPFL.

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Guest: Michael Benedikt, Frank Zimmermann     Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Bastian Hundt

Particle accelerators are the backbone of today’s particle physics research and help us understand the smallest building blocks our world is made of. To understand this deeper, more powerful accelerators are needed, beyond what is possible with today’s LHC. The world’s physics community is continuously running studies to explore science questions and evaluate the required accelerators; one of those the studies is the Future Circular Collider study led by CERN. In this episode we discuss the science questions as well as the core engineering challenges with the two leaders of the FCC study, Michael Benedikt and Frank Zimmermann.

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Vorstellung Michael Benedikt und Frank Zimmermann


FCC study at CERN | LHC

Costs and Challenges of Colliders


Tradeof between radius and magnets | Tevatron | HERA | RHIC | LHC-Upgrade | Synchrotron radiation | Klystron | Data Acquisition

Lessons Learned from LHC



Challenges for FCC-hh and FCC-eh


Synchrotron radiation | Radiation damping | Optics and Beamdynamics | Magnetic lenses | Machine Protection | Quench Protection | Collimation / Filtering | Beam Dumping

Risk Minimization and FCC Roadmap


High Luminosity LHC

The sea ice in the arctic and antarctic regions of the earth is an especially sensitive indicator of the earth’s climate, and in particular, the current overall atmospheric temperature of the planet. It was recently reported to have reached a new low. Our guest, NASA’s Walt Meier explains why this is the case and which processes govern the increase or decrease of the ice. We then discuss how the ice mass is measured based on satellite and how its thickness is estimated based mostly on in-situ measurements. We cover climate modeling and its connection to sea ice and conclude with an outlook on future research.

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Sea Ice and Climate Change


Albedo | Melt Ponds



Overview of Ice Observation History


Forcing Mechanisms for Sea Ice Change


Data Acceptance


Expected Areas and Focus of Research


Tidal power refers to extracting electrical energies out of the tide streams in oceans. Various techniques exist. Tocardo is a provider of axial turbines, and our guest, Pieter de Haas, is their CTO. In this episode we talk about tidal power in general, siting, the design and engineering of Tocardo’s turbines as well as the overall economic and technical trade-offs in making the turbines work over the long run.

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Sea creatures avoid strong currents | Tip speed 20m/s vs 80m/s in wind turbines | Increase speed for efficiency when currents deter creatures | Fixed pitch turbine for reliability instead of variable pitch | Speed is measured by frequency converters | Speed is controlled by frequency converters by varying amount of energy harvested (Balance efficiency vs reliability – aim for reliability and minimise risk)  | Numerical modelling | Model for energy output, reliability & engineering cost | Over-engineer | 60 tones thrust load | 150 tonne-meter torque | Economic engineering | Emerging technology | Rare-earth magnet | Superconductivity | Cost of energy increasing | Future turbine cost reduction expected | Extreme fatigue | Material curve | Currently 35% efficient | Efficiency currently acceptable | Bi-blade patent | Blade direction is flipped by reverse-powering the generator as a motor



Aim for zero maintenance of underwater components | Remote monitoring and reconfiguration | Predictive maintenance | Annual inspection initially | Ducted turbine

About Tocardo


10 turbines currently running & connected to the grid | Turbines running up to 8 years so far | All running in the Netherlands | Type T1 6m blade diameter 110kw | Type T2 10m blade diameter 235kw | Mission is to manufacture and service turbines | 25 employees



Prototypes | Floating venturi turbine | Ring generator | Three blades | Two blades | Supply chain | Base load | Commercial pilot project