Tag Archives: technology

10 Common Myths Surrounding GPS

By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

The Global Positioning System, or GPS, has been broadcasting signals for nearly 40 years. During that time, a number of myths, misconceptions, conspiracies and falsehoods have been raised. Let’s examine 10 common myths surrounding GPS.

Satellite system operators monitor during a satellite launch
Capt. Jared Delaney, right, and Senior Airman Bryan Wynkoop, 19th Space Operations Squadron satellite system operators, monitor telemetry during the GPS SVN-69 launch Oct. 29, 2014, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers/Released)

1. The U.S. military owns GPS
GPS is operated by the 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadrons at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. However, the U.S. government owns GPS, and the program is paid for by U.S. taxpayers. According to GPS.gov, GPS receives “national-level attention and guidance from a joint civil/military body called the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing.” The committee is co-chaired by the Deputy Secretaries of Defense and Transportation.
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Air Force holds first hackathon

By Senior Airman Michelle Patten
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

You’re probably familiar with a marathon, a 26.2-mile running race, but have you heard of a hackathon? More of a mental race, a hackathon is dedicated to tech-savvy computer programmers and other software developers who work intensively on software projects.

It may sound like a room full of geeks staring intensely at glowing computer screens, but these hackers were not breaking into protected computer systems. Instead, the term hacker refers to individuals finding creative solutions to problems.
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What’s your story? Aug. 6, 2012


Suicide affects more than one

By Col. Jonathan Sutherland
50th Network Operations Group

I remember the phone call three years ago like it happened an hour ago. My sister called to tell me our dad had died unexpectedly in his sleep. Among the many emotions I encountered shortly thereafter, I distinctly remember reflecting on my dad’s Air Force service as I watched his flag being folded by sharp Air Force honor guard members.

My dad only served four years in the Air Force, but my childhood was filled with stories about his service and the people with whom he served. He rarely spoke of what he did, but focused more on his supervisors, peers and the few subordinates he had. He still knew them by name, where they were from and had a story or two to tell about each of them. After more than 20 years out of the Air Force, he still kept in touch with those Airmen. Frankly, his stories and my excitement about wanting to be part of an organization like that were the main reasons I enlisted in the Air Force a few months after graduating from high school.

I came in the Air Force during an era before computers and cell phones. I knew everyone in the office and nearly everything about them. It was natural. To get something done, you walked to their desk or developed a relationship with them over the phone. I knew just by the sound of their voice or the way they walked into the office what kind of day they were having. I didn’t have to rely on them to post their status on Facebook to understand how they were feeling. Of course, Facebook was still 20 years away.

In today’s digital age, times have certainly changed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a cyber guy and a huge proponent of technology, so I’m excited to see where we’re headed into the future. However, the one area that we’ve sacrificed is personal relationships and the ability to “read” our fellow Airmen. How many times have you sent an e-mail or text to the Airman sitting in your own office? How well do you know your co-workers, your boss and your subordinates? Do you know where they’re from? Do you know what they do off-duty?

As a young squadron commander in England, I had to pick up the pieces of a devastated unit after a bright, young senior airman took her own life. She was popular, outgoing and an impressive Airman, having won the squadron Airman of the quarter award earlier that year. After her death, we learned how much stress she had in her life and how many signs were out there if people would have just known her better. No one wanted to ask because they didn’t want to “get into her business.” Of course after her death, they all wished they would have.

Tragically, our Air Force is barreling down a path to set a record for suicides in 2012. The previous record for suicides was set in 2010 when 99 fellow Airmen took their own lives. We are well on our way to smash that record this year. In most of these cases, the signs were there, but no one was watching for them. How many of our wingmen are deployed, have moved or worked a different shift schedule? If wingmen aren’t watching out for each other, who is? If you don’t know much about your co-workers, how will you recognize abnormal behavior from normal? It’s incumbent upon each one of us to get to know our fellow Airmen. Step out from behind your desk, walk to the next desk and just ask a few questions about their life. Sure, it might be a little invasive, but it also may reveal the struggles they’re facing.

Twenty-five years from now, when you’re talking to your kids and grandkids about your Air Force life, what will you tell them? Let’s hope you go overboard and tell them about each person you worked with, how they were unique and how much you still stay in touch with them. Everyone has a story to tell. let’s hope you get out from behind your computer to hear them all. I look forward to hearing yours too.

Image: Suicide is often spoken about as if one person is affected, but only the individuals left behind truly understand the full impact of that decision. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Joshua Green)

USAF Celebrates 50 Years of the Laser

Dr. Schlossberg
Dr. Howard Schlossberg, Air Force Office of Scientific Research program manager

The Air Force has many claims to fame, including some that you may not know about. Lasers are a part of USAF’s history and a part of your everyday life. We’re taking a little bit of time to show some respect for lasers during the 50th anniversary of the first laser.

In a recent DODLive Bloggers Roundtable, Dr. Howard Schlossberg, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, discussed the year-long celebration LaserFest, which has been showcasing the development of the laser, advancements in laser technology, and the applications of lasers.

AFOSR is involved in nascent laser research by providing necessary funding to researchers in academia and some small businesses. For the past 50 years or so, AFOSR has sponsored research that involves lasers, some of which have led to inventions.

“So much of the fundamental work that’s been done in the country has been sponsored by the Air Force,” Princeton Professor Richard Miles said. “This is the mechanism by which many of those of us in the research community and academia do our fundamental long-range research.”

Experimental work is being done using lasers to detect IEDs, but the results are not perfect and will take more years of work.  Air Force-funded laser research not only helps the warfighter, but also everyday life. For example, optical coherence tomography is used to detect eye disease, and lasers are used to correct imperfections in the production of LCD TVs.

“For me, over 48 years of a professional career, that’s been the excitement of the whole field, the interplay between the advancement of laser technology and the advancement of things you can do with lasers,” Schlossberg said.

Currently, Dr. Schlossberg is a program manager for laser and optical physics at AFOSR, and some fascinating trivia you should know is that he knows the actual inventor of the first laser. Schlossberg’s educational pedigree is truly interesting. Besides attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Schlossberg’s advisor, Ali Javan, was the inventor of the first continuous wave laser, and Javan’s advisor was the inventor of the laser, Charles Towne.

“I was Ali’s first student. He didn’t trust his own judgment, so he sent me to Professor Townes… to make sure I was OK. Somehow, Professor Townes said I was OK,” Schlossberg commented.

For the complete DODLive Bloggers Roundtable on lasers, visit DODLive.